Irritated residents claim they have not been properly consulted about a charity cycle race which will hinder their road access and cause ‘chaos’ in their village for hours.
Letters from Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) were sent out to dozens of villagers in Tarporley, Tarvin and Kelsall stipulating that all cars will be banned from the road for the Etape Mercia Cycle Race which starts and finishes at Oulton Park in Little Budworth on Sunday, August 18.
Thousands of cyclists will take to the road to raise money for Marie Curie Cancer Care during the race, described as a ‘breathtaking’ 69-mile route through the West Cheshire countryside on completely closed roads.
But many of those living on the roads feel they’re being ‘told what to do’ and say they have not been properly consulted about the disruptions, which will force them to park their cars more than half a mile away.
Alan Brett, who lives on Edgewell Lane in Eaton, said: “We’re not against the charity race for Marie Curie because it’s a good thing. But apart from one letter we’ve had hardly any consultation – it’s just not on.
“We’ve been told to remove our cars and park them down a lane over half a mile away as there’ll be no off-road parking.”
He added: “It’s only blue badge holders that are exempt. But the place they’re telling us to park has no street lights, footpath or verges so anyone parking their cars there has a long walk back to their home.
“If there’d been consultation, the residents could have suggested an alternative route that wouldn’t affect people like this.
“We’re effectively being told what to do – we’re a close-knit community and don’t like being dictated to.
Another resident said: “Everyone en route out of the village will be virtually under house arrest.
“What benefit will remote rural residents get for losing one of their two free days off? What about farmers and people needing to get to work and not even being able to get out of their driveway?
“An ambulance can't head past 2,000 cyclists coming against it on narrow country roads and criminals will have a field day as police can't get to them!”
But a CWaC spokesperson said: “The development of this event is an exciting opportunity for the borough following the success of British cycling in the last two years. It’s expected to bring significant economic spend to rural areas, with competitors and spectators staying in the area over the full weekend.
“Disruption is unavoidable but a course has been designed that captures the best of our rural area, aiming to keep disruption to a minimum.
“In Eaton, Edgewell Lane has a closure in place from 6.30am on Sunday till 8.50am, totalling two hours 20 minutes.
“To maintain the route’s safety, a parking suspension is in place from 4pm on Saturday until 8.50am on Sunday.
“While we appreciate this does create further disruption there is alternative parking outside the primary school and on Hickhurst Lane.
“There’s a footpath for most of this distance which is about 400m. Most residents have driveways which will accommodate many cars.
“There has also been a period of communication with people impacted on the route since March with two articles in Talking West Cheshire magazine in March and July which goes to all houses.”
“A letter drop also went to businesses and farms directly on the route and to all parish councils and elected members. The residents impacted by the parking suspension also had a letter drop.”
Race organisers IMG added: “To host a safe, well-managed, closed road sporting event, road closures must be put in place.
“Organisers have implemented a rolling road closure plan to ensure roads are opened as soon as possible after the race has passed through specific areas – local business and resident communications are a priority.
“Working closely with Cheshire West and Chester Council, road closure information has been distributed to all impacted residents and businesses.”
CWaC has set up a website to communicate details of routes for residents which can be found at www.talkingwestcheshire.org/ETAPE .