Vulnerable people say they waited hours for care and scores of Cheshire businesses claim they are thousands of pounds out of pocket after a charity cycling race brought Cheshire’s villages to a standstill.
Dozens of rural hamlets in Tarporley, Tarvin and Kelsall were descended upon by thousands of cyclists for the Etape Mercia Cycle Race from Oulton Park in Little Budworth on Sunday.
The event, organised by sports agency IMG, was raising funds for Marie Curie Cancer Care and was described as a ‘breathtaking’ 69-mile route through the West Cheshire countryside’.
But while Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) promised the race would bring ‘significant economic benefit’ to the area, staggered road closures meant many local businesses experienced major disruption all day.
Simon Begby, who owns and manages Willington Hall Hotel, said: “Effectively, our entire area was closed. On normal Sundays we do an average of 50 lunches; that day we managed just 22. We also had people cancelling rooms because they either couldn’t find us because of all the diversions or they just physically couldn’t get to us – meaning we lost a good few thousand pounds .
“CWaC said they had done a full consultation beforehand but there was none at all – the only reason I knew it was happening was because I knew someone who was doing the race!”
Julie Cummings, who owns home-care agency Care4You in Tarporley, ended up being late for the daily home visits she and her team make .
“It was absolutely terrible, the people on the barrier weren’t allowing us through ,” she said.
“One lady lives so far down a long lane there was just no way of us getting there and the only saving grace was we managed to call her daughter who lives nearby who had to care for her. If she hadn’t that lady would have been left in her bed all day, effectively trapped in her own home.”
Julie added: “All we knew about it beforehand was from a few signs, I certainly didn’t get any proper consultation .”
And Kevin Hassatt, who owns Willington Hall Riding Centre near Tarporley, said:“We virtually lost the entire Sunday because nobody could get to us, and I’d say we lost about 75% revenue .
“I want to make clear that in no way are we condemning charity events or cyclists because I’ve absolutely no problem with them, but the way this has been dealt with has caused an enormous amount of disruption .”
An Etape Mercia spokesperson said: “This event has been successfully received as a positive addition to the local events calendar, providing a safe and well managed event for local cyclists and attracting cyclists from other areas of the UK.
“Resident and business communications is a priority for Etape Mercia. Working closely with the council, the event has provided long-lead and timely communications.”
Organisers say the following communication processes were carried out to ensure as little disruption as possible to the area:
A letter drop was hand delivered to all businesses and farms directly on the closed section of the route.
The Talking Together magazine was distributed in March and July and delivered to all properties in the borough.
A community information website was set up and promoted through all communications.
All parish councils and local members were informed of the event and the nature of closures.
Advanced road closure warning signs were in place on the whole route for three and a half weeks prior to the event and referred to a web site with further information
Event organisers facilitated social care movements for a number of local people who made contact in advance of the event.