In July 2014 whilst on a visit to the Williams F1 team, the then Prime Minister David Cameron casually announced that local authorities would have the power to suspend the Road Traffic Act!
He didn’t realise just what a seismic effect that announcement could have on motor sport in the UK, or how much effort went in over four years by the UK motor sport governing body, the MSA, to influence devolved legislation change from Westminster to local council level!
The amendment to the RTA gives local authorities the power to close roads and suspend speed limits or parking restrictions so they can run motor sport events in their region.
The opportunity is major. Whether it is a race, a rally or a motoring pageant, a region has the authority to organise minor or major events as serious attractions to bolster trade and promote their region and all its assets.
In the past, major events such as the epic Birmingham Superprix, had to wait for an Act of Parliament to take the international F3000 race around the Bull Ring but then reaped the rewards of major international visitors and worldwide TV to enrich and promote the city. London would dearly love to run an F1 Grand Prix, and this may well happen as the Mayor Sadiq Khan understands the high value a global event such as motor racing’s premier series would bring to the city.
Cities and regions throughout the UK already compete for business through events. Newcastle has its major concerts and the Great North Run, but through our work with Sunderland City Council we came to understand how they formulated a contrasting plan to their major rivals by taking to the air. The Sunderland Air show, combined with entertainment along their miles of shoreline brings over one million visitors to the area over one day! Now because of the closed roads plan, Sunderland has seen an additional chance to attract the followers of the growth business of Classic Cars. The Classic Roger Albert Clark rally is now based in Sunderland after we ran a test rally event with full governing body permission in the city, the success of which spurred the council to bring more events connected to motoring and motor sport to town.
Bournemouth Council has long advocated motor sport events toboost trade, especially in the winter months when hotels and restaurants clamour for business at the end of their season. The Sunseeker International Rally based in Bournemouth not only filled beds in many guest houses and hotels but also drew eight thousand people alone to the first stage on a Friday evening as it traversed the Winter Gardens. They created a regular winter happening that built a major following with a great commercial impact for the region.
New Brighton now closes its roads on the Wirral for the Promenade Stages Rally with other towns seriously appraising event proposals which would add dimension to their own rosta of events. By inviting motor cycle races and concourse parades to consider events for their territories, some enlightened regions are planning to use the new legislation for closed roads to their advantage.
Whilst it is a slightly different proposition, most of the UK is envious of the position the enlightened Yorkshire Tourist Board has engineered for its county. It is now the acknowledged centre of cycling for the United Kingdom, through vision and investment, Yorkshire is now reaping the benefits.
hps Jardine can not only help identify events of national and international importance for a region, it can also create them and promote them. Our work with governing bodies and sanctioning committees is at its highest level, ready to take full advantage of the closed roads legislation.
Article by Tony Jardine
Tony Jardine has combined a long career in sports management and communications.
He has continued his media work running alongside the successful management of communications company hps Jardine. TJ has worked for the BBC, ITV, Sky Sports and currently BeIN Sports on F1.
His experience in automotive and motor sport is primary but his love of competition driving has given him a list of ticked events completed from the Monte Carlo Rally to winning at the Goodwood Revival.
A keen race and rally driver, he owns a small collection of favourite cars that includes a classic 1965 Mini Cooper S.