Campaign pulls off as Portsmouth velodrome is set to reopen in New Year

Paul Giles protests in 2014 with fellow cyclists who want the cycle track at The Mountbatten Centre to be reopened 'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (141797-2)
Paul Giles protests in 2014 with fellow cyclists who want the cycle track at The Mountbatten Centre to be reopened 'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (141797-2)
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A COMMUNITY campaign to get a cycle track reopened following the death of an off-duty police officer during a race has paid off.

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

It’s really important. It’s vital because it’s where so many youngsters have started off in the sport.

Jon Spencer, of Portsmouth Cycle Forum

The track was closed by Parkwood Leisure, which runs the centre, after the tragedy.

Hundreds of cyclists, including Paul Giles, of Drayton signed a petition calling for its re-opening so youngsters and keen bikers still had somewhere in the city to train and ride.

And now the track is finally due to reopen in January as the council, Parkwood and British Cycling have joined together and spent £80,000 on safety improvements and upgrading the track

Metal rails are being put up around the outside so cyclists feel more safe while on the track.

Jon Spencer, of Portsmouth Cycle Forum, said he was delighted to see it being re-opened.

Mr Spencer said: ‘It’s really important. It’s vital because it’s where so many youngsters have started off in the sport. People like Dani King and Rob Hayles have raced there towards the start of their careers.

‘It’s a fantastic place for cyclists, off the main road and away from any traffic.’

Mr Spencer said the reopening of the traffic would go some distance towards helping to fulfil the forum’s strategy of improving cycling opportunities and providing safer places to ride in Portsmouth.

Tory council leader Donna Jones said she had been regularly lobbied by cycle campaigners about the need for the facility to reopen.

Welcoming its reopening, Cllr Jones said: ‘I’m very pleased that a local sporting facility will be open again. We’ll continue to work together with local cycling clubs to develop a new programme of activities and events. This will help to encourage a healthy way of living.’