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Vachery Triathlon organiser claims Surrey County Council reneged on deal to hold event following anti-cycling protests

Brave Events says council demanded 'unachieveable' processes in the wake of petitions to stop Surrey closed-road events...

The CEO of the company that runs the Vachery Triathlon in Surrey has hit out at the council processes that have forced it to call off this year’s event.

Mark Davis of Brave Events has said that he planned the 2014 event on the basis that it would be approved in the same way as last year’s successful one - but then was told there was a list of new, ‘unachievable’ procedures to go through.

Mr Davis told Get Surrey: “The council maintains that it would only be able to run Vachery in 2014 by following a new and far more onerous process that requires, amongst other things, the unanimous support of a long list of stakeholders including all affected parish councils.”

This, he said, was in response to anti-cycling protests in the county, particularly in the wake of the Prudential RideLondon closed road event in the summer.

He said: “As the council has now confirmed, it does not accept our position, perhaps in recognition of the anti open-road cycling furore from local politicians and protesters experienced last year, and instead insists there was no standing agreement for Vachery in 2014.”

A Surrey County Council spokesman responded, saying: “We are not the organisers of the Vachery Triathlon and have not been involved in any decisions about its running.

“There has been no dispute with event organisers Brave Events.

“We told them that if they want to apply to close the roads for the triathlon, they must follow our new process, involving consultation with residents, businesses and councillors and a formal application; and so far we have not received anything from them.”

Mr Davis added: “The council’s statement is contradictory in that it states there was no dispute with Brave Events and then confirms the position it has adopted in relation to Vachery in 2014.

“It is precisely the position that we must follow a new process to obtain approval for any road closures, which has been the subject of the dispute.”

Many of those who have already signed up have lost part of their entry fee, and 3,500 competitors will be disappointed at the news that the triathlon is not to run on July 20 as planned.

As Brave Events has gone into administration as a result of the cancellation, some money will be recoverable from the insolvency practitioners.

Mr Davis said: “It is incredibly frustrating and deeply saddening to disappoint the triathletes, spectators and volunteers who shared our vision and contributed to the short but stunning sporting success of the Vachery Triathlon Festival.”

Earlier this month we reported how Brave Events ceased trading, blaming "highly vocal" opposition to cycling events in the area.

As a result of the company's decision, neither the Vachery Triathlon nor XTERRA England - an off-road triathlon event, with disciplines including mountain biking and trail running - will take place this year.

As we reported last year, a petition was launched by local businessman Ian Huggins called on the council to "Stop using Surrey as a Cycle Track."

That petition was subsequently overtaken in support by one launched by cyclist (and user) Keith McRae, which called on the council to support cycling events, but urged it to communicate better with local residents in order to ensure they could continue to go ahead in future.

In December, the council, whose draft cycling strategy is currently going through a consultation process, urged the government to introduce a law regulating sportives, apparently in reaction to pressure from some Surrey residents.

The council also found itself embroiled in a row in November when it was accused of having signed a "secret" agreement to host the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 closed-road sportive for five years - even though, when the event was announced in 2012, it was clear that five annual editions would initially be held.

The route XTERRA England, part of the leading international off-road triathlon series and a qualification event for the world championships in Hawaii, included a 30km mountain bike ride and 10km trail run, both in the Surrey Hills.

The 2014 edition was due to have been held on the weekend of 23 and 24 August - a fortnight after Prudential RideLondon.

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