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Hundreds sign petition calling for cycle track at Mountbatten Centre in Portsmouth to be reopened after rider’s death

Rich Phillips-Schofield

Rich Phillips-Schofield

 

CALLS are growing for a cycling track to be reopened three months after an off-duty police officer died there while taking part in a race.

The velodrome at the Mountbatten Centre in Portsmouth was closed after PC Richard Phillips-Schofield, 33, died following a crash on March 11.

The track was closed by Parkwood Leisure, which runs the centre on behalf of Portsmouth City Council, following the accident.

But now the cycling community is calling on Parkwood for it to be reopened.

David Gwilliam is a cycling coach from North End who organised a petition in support of reopening the track.

He said it had about 350 signatures.

Mr Gwilliam said: ‘It was a tragic accident and there needed to be an inquiry, but to stop all coaching activities seems a bit over the top.’

Mr Gwilliam has concerns about younger cyclists who were now being forced to train elsewhere.

He said: ‘The track is a traffic-free environment and it probably one of the safest areas that we could do any coaching.

‘But now they’re doing it in car parks and even on the road, which is not very safe.’

Mr Gwilliam said the velodrome had been used by hundreds of cyclists every month.

Paul Giles, of Drayton, said he also wanted the velodrome reopened.

Mr Giles, himself a member of the Portsmouth North End Cycling Club, said his 12-year-old son Owen now had to train in car parks because there was no where else to go.

He said: ‘When children go off racing they need to know how to react and how to ride safely with others around them.

‘At the moment they can’t do that.

‘And it’s actually very noticeable when you look at the rankings of the youth riders in the south, how few of them are there now because we’ve lost one of our key hubs.’

The council’s environment and community safety officer Councillor Rob New said it was a difficult situation.

He said: ‘I absolutely understand the frustration felt by users of the track and I’m quite empathic towards them.

‘But on the other hand there’s been a very tragic accident and due process needs to be followed.’

The centre’s manager, Gary Swann, was unavailable for comment when contacted by The News.

The petition can be found online by visiting change.org and searching for Mountbatten Centre.

 

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