Cyclists to be given legal backing by council over Mountbatten Centre floodlights issue

FRUSTRATED cyclists have been promised legal support in their attempts to get the floodlights turned back on at the city's velodrome.

Monday, 17th October 2016, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 25th October 2016, 5:43 pm
John Heffernan leads, from front, Ollie Hitchings, Alex Collins, Calum Laycock, Barney Clacy and Simon Veater-Young in a Fareham Wheelers motor pacing session at the Mountbatten Centre Picture: Rob Atkins

Following fresh discussions between cycling groups and Portsmouth City Council on Friday, the council has agreed to back the various clubs that use the Mountbatten Centre’s track.

This could see the council calling on site operators Parkwood Leisure to pay compensation to the clubs for any of their incurred costs as they’ve had to train elsewhere.

The 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 earlier this year.

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Councillor Linda Symes, the council’s cabinet member for leisure and sport, said that Parkwood is currently not allowing temporary floodlights to be put in place after advice from its insurers.

She said: ‘Hundreds of Portsmouth athletes, including national champions, are currently unable to train and we are doing everything we can to put that right.’

‘This isn’t acceptable and the council’s legal team will be working with the various clubs that use the site to help them in their battle to get the track and field back in action.’

The council are in discussions about allowing cyclists to have free access to the park and ride site in Tipner to train after the bus service finishes for the day.

It is also arranging for a new lighting system to be installed at the centre, but this won’t be complete until next year.

Guy Watson, head coach of Portsmouth School of Cycling Racing, said: ‘The situation is better than it was before.

‘Of course, we want to be able to train as quick as possible and we have said that we would bring temporary lighting with us to train there and we want the council to work to make that happen for us.’'