Portsmouth MP piles pressure on authorities to fix Mountbatten velodrome floodlights

Cyclists at the Mountbatten Leisure Centre velodrome Picture: Rob Atkins
Cyclists at the Mountbatten Leisure Centre velodrome Picture: Rob Atkins

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AUTHORITIES insist they remain committed to fixing the floodlights of a popular leisure facility left out of action for safety reasons.

The Mountbatten Centre’s lights, which illuminate the velodrome track at night in the winter, have been shut off since the death of Albanian taxi driver, Albert Xhediku, who was electrocuted on a nearby football pitch this year.

Clearly there is a tragic backdrop to this, just as their was with regard to reopening the facility, and safety is paramount, however it is far safer in my view to have this facility in full use, rather than have people training on the open road.

Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt

Portsmouth City Council, which owns the facility, is in talks with its operator Parkwood Community Leisure over the type of repairs that need carrying out – though Parkwood has agreed to pay up £250,000.

Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt has been frustrated neither organisation seems to have taken responsibility.

But both parties have now revealed they are finalising a programme of works which will be shared ‘before the end of next month’.

In a joint statement, the council and Parkwood said: ‘We are working together on a design for the new floodlighting for the running and cycling track and we hope to be able to share a schedule for these works with stakeholders before the end of next month. We are working together to make sure that the best long-term solution is found and that public money is well spent.’

The velodrome was closed in March 2014 after the death of a rider, and only reopened in May this year after safety improvements.

Raising her frustrations, Ms Mordaunt said: ‘Clearly there is a tragic backdrop to this, just as there was with regard to reopening the facility, and safety is paramount.

‘However, it is far safer in my view to have this facility in full use, rather than have people training on the open road. The nights are now drawing in and floodlights are needed.

‘Just as I did with getting things reopened, I am determined to bang heads together.

‘If there is a dispute over costs we can work together to find a way forward, but it is not clear exactly why this is still outstanding – whether it is a safety issue or just a row about who is responsible.

‘What is clear is that a much-in-demand facility cannot currently be used.’