Motoring events on Brighton's Madeira Drive saved

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Labour members of Brighton Council have taken a dramatic U-turn on their refusal to support future motorsport events on Madeira drive after pressure from Conservative councillors and members of the public, securing the future of the historic venue.

Concerns were raised over the future of the events held on Madeira drive, including the historic Speed Trials that have been run since 1905, after Labour refused to provide support for them going forward. The worry was that the current temporary closure of the drive for vehicles, to ease social distancing due to coronavirus, may become permanent.

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However, after considerable pressure, as well as numerous articles of support in the media and a petition, Labour announced that the events would no longer be cancelled even if the road closure becomes permanent.

In a statement, Gary Wilkinson, Deputy Chair of the Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee said: “At the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, we temporarily closed the road to motor vehicles to provide a safe space for our residents to walk and cycle.

“While the temporary road closure remains in place, Madeira Drive will be open and available when necessary to host these events in both the short and long term. We will continue to work with event organisers to ensure a full programme can return to Madeira Drive in a healthier, stronger and safer city.”

Quadrophobia: Council considers permanent closure of Brighton’s Madeira Drive to motor vehicles

First published on July 3, 2020 by Ben Clarke

Brighton Speed Trials

Brighton and Hove City Council (BHCC) are considering a permanent closure of Madeira Drive to motor vehicles, which would exclude events such as the Ace Café Burn up and Brighton Speed Trials.

The road was temporarily closed in response to the coronavirus pandemic to allow more space for walking, cycling and jogging. But the closure could now become permanent pending a review in the autumn.

The news has clearly divided residents and has sparked petitions both for and against. At the time of writing, the petition for permanent closure has 2708 signatures, while the one for reopening has 5837.

The stretch of road was created when a new sea wall was built in the 1870s to extend the existing promenade. This was then sealed in 1905 with a brand-new material called Tarmac to allow the first Brighton Speed Trials to take place. But the future of the 115-year-old event run by Brighton and Hove Motor Club is now uncertain.

Madeira Drive in Brighton during the Speed Trials

“What we can’t get a clear answer from the council on is whether the road will be able to be opened specially for events if the closure is permanent,” said the club’s chairman, Len Wooller. “Clearly it would be a real tragedy for us and also the businesses on the seafront. We can’t even drive to our clubhouse that we’ve spent thousands on.

“The road generates the council £1.2m in parking revenue per year and if you add to that the influx of business brought by the speed trials and other events like InCarNation and Brightona, I’d estimate it would mean at least £13m of lost revenue.”

In a meeting of BHCC’s Environment, Transport and Sustainability Committee on Tuesday, June 23, Green Party Cllr Jamie Lloyd specifically asked about the future of vehicle rallies on the seafront.

The question was answered by Mark Prior, the Assistant Director for city transport, who said said: “Given government restrictions and emerging restrictions, the events programme is unlikely to take place for the foreseeable and is not a consideration.

“If it remains closed, then events will not be the focus and not the main consideration.”

Burnout at Brighton Speed Trials