Cops ‘in­creas­ingly con­cerned’ at open-road ral­lies

Bangor Mail - - NEWS -

PO­LICE said they are be­com­ing ‘in­creas­ingly con­cerned’ about ral­lies tak­ing place on North Wales’ roads af­ter a biker was killed on Septem­ber 1.

The state­ment came as politi­cians also raised ques­tions about the safety of ral­lies tak­ing place on roads which re­mained open to the pub­lic.

A 48-year-old man was killed when his mo­tor­bike col­lided with a Ford RS2000 which was tak­ing part in the Vale of Cl­wyd Clas­sic rally.

The driver and nav­i­ga­tor of the rally car both ended up in hos­pi­tal af­ter the col­li­sion on the B5105, and an in­ves­ti­ga­tion is un­der way into how the crash hap­pened.

North Wales Roads Polic­ing Unit Sergeant Trys­tan Be­van said the force did not support ral­lies and nav­i­ga­tion events tak­ing place on pub­lic roads.

He said: “North Wales Po­lice were made aware of this rally back in June and we were in­formed that it was tak­ing place on a pub­lic high­way.

“We are be­com­ing in­creas­ingly con­cerned over the num­ber and na­ture of cer­tain events that are now be­ing held on the pub­lic high­way, and we do not support events such as ral­lies and nav­i­ga­tional events tak­ing place.

“The Mo­tor Sports As­so­ci­a­tion, un­der pow­ers in­vested by the Welsh gov­ern­ment, are the le­gal body that au­tho­rise ral­lies/ time tri­als tak­ing place on the high­way and the re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and duty of care for main­tain­ing pub­lic safety rests on the or­gan­iser.

“Our in­ves­ti­ga­tion in re­la­tion to the tragic in­ci­dent on the week­end is on­go­ing, there­fore, it would be in­ap­pro­pri­ate to com­ment fur­ther.”

The rally com­prised of “tests” on pri­vate land, and also some road sec­tions, be­gin­ning and end­ing at the Druid Inn in Llan­feres. The events are or­gan­ised by the Mo­tor Sports As­so­ci­a­tion (MSA), with pow­ers del­e­gated to them by the Welsh Gov­ern­ment. While po­lice are in­formed ahead of the ral­lies tak­ing place, lo­cal au­thor­i­ties, such as coun­cils, would only be in­volved in the man­age­ment or plan­ning of events if any pub­lic roads were be­ing closed.

No roads were closed dur­ing the Vale of Cl­wyd Clas­sic, but the high­ways were used by some of the com­pet­ing ve­hi­cles.

How­ever, the MSA stressed any road sec­tions did not in­volve rac­ing.

A spokesman for the MSA said: “As is the case with all road traf­fic ac­ci­dents, this in­ci­dent will be sub­ject to a full po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Un­til this has reached its con­clu­sion and the out­come is known, any com­ments re­gard­ing the pos­si­ble causes of this tragic ac­ci­dent are pre­ma­ture and must be re­garded as spec­u­la­tion.

“For the avoid­ance of doubt, this was not a race on the pub­lic high­way; it was a road nav­i­ga­tion event for clas­sic cars, or­gan­ised by an MSA-reg­is­tered club and sub­ject to MSA reg­u­la­tions and the Road Traf­fic Act.

“We would like to take this op­por­tu­nity to re­it­er­ate our sin­cere con­do­lences to the fam­ily of the mo­tor­cy­clist.”

Llyr Gruffydd, a Plaid Cymru Assem­bly Mem­ber, said he had con­cerns that pub­lic high­ways were be­ing used for mo­tor­ing con­tests at the same time they were be­ing used by or­di­nary road users.

He added he had raised con­cerns with the po­lice in the past over the event, and res­i­dents who lived in the area had com­plained to him about po­ten­tial safety is­sues three years ago.

Mr Gruffydd said: “My thoughts and con­do­lences go out to the vic­tims and their fam­i­lies. We must await the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the crash of course, but con­cerns about this rally us­ing pub­lic roads have been raised with me in previous years. Two years ago, I raised those con­cerns with North Wales Po­lice and was as­sured all the ral­ly­ing took place on pri­vate roads.

“I have again sought those as­sur­ances fol­low­ing the week­end’s ter­ri­ble ac­ci­dent.

“We need to know whether the rally was op­er­at­ing within agreed pa­ram­e­ters and whether there was suf­fi­cient stew­ard­ing, pub­lic­ity and sig­nage to warn the gen­eral pub­lic.”

A Welsh Gov­ern­ment spokesper­son said: “A po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion is un­der way and, as such, it would be in­ap­pro­pri­ate for us to com­ment in de­tail. We work closely with North Wales Po­lice and will dis­cuss any con­cerns as part of our col­lab­o­ra­tive ar­range­ments.”

The Cl­wyd Vale Mo­tor Club, which or­gan­ised the event, can­celled the rally im­me­di­ately af­ter the ac­ci­dent, which left the rally car on its roof at the side of a T-junc­tion on the road through the Clo­caenog for­est.

The driver was flown to Stoke in a se­ri­ous con­di­tion and the nav­i­ga­tor was taken to Wrex­ham Maelor hos­pi­tal with mi­nor in­juries. Nei­ther are be­lieved to be from the lo­cal area and the mo­tor­cy­clist who was killed, who has not been named, was from Mersey­side.

Cl­wyd Vale Mo­tor Club re­leased a state­ment fol­low­ing the crash, say­ing it would be work­ing with the au­thor­i­ties to es­tab­lish what hap­pened.

The state­ment said: “We would like to of­fer our deep­est sym­pa­thies to the fam­ily of the mo­tor­cy­clist who trag­i­cally died. We will also be sup­port­ing the two com­peti­tors with their re­cov­er­ies.”

Po­lice close the road af­ter the fa­tal ac­ci­dent on the B5105

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