Huge fee in­crease in Wales puts ral­lies in jeop­ardy

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - News - John West­lake

The fu­ture of his­toric ral­ly­ing in Wales is in doubt af­ter the Gov­ern­ment body that ad­min­is­ters the Welsh forests in­creased fees by 90%.

‘That’s go­ing to kill it [the sport] stone dead in Wales,’ says His­toric Rally Car Reg­is­ter (HRCR) chair­man Paul Loveridge. ‘We’re pay­ing around £650 per mile for first us­age now, and that will al­most dou­ble – which will be passed on to the com­peti­tors. So an en­try fee that is per­ilously close to £500 now would go up to £750 or so. Peo­ple will cut down the num­ber of events they do in Wales.’

Na­tional Re­sources Wales (NRW) – the Welsh Gov­ern­ment body in charge of the forests – says the in­crease is to cover the dam­age done by rally cars, both modern and his­toric. It claims that in 2015 ral­ly­ing caused £655,000 worth of dam­age, while it was paid £339,000 in fees.

Th­ese fig­ures are dis­puted by rally ex­perts, and seem out of kil­ter with the 0.7% an­nual in­crease agreed by the equiv­a­lent for­est au­thor­i­ties in Eng­land and Wales.

Be­sides the price in­crease, an­other prob­lem is the timescale. NRW says the new fees will come into place on 1 June, giv­ing rally or­gan­is­ers pre­cious lit­tle time to set up new price struc­tures and com­mu­ni­cate with com­peti­tors.

‘I feel des­per­ately sorry for the clubs who are put­ting th­ese event on who may have com­mit­ted to venues and per­son­nel and have taken en­tries, and now they re­ally don’t know what’s go­ing on,’ says Paul. ‘They’re in an aw­ful po­si­tion.’

A Ford Es­cort MkI RS1600 en­ter­tains the crowds at last year’s Na­tional Rally of Wales. A 90% fee in­crease by Welsh au­thor­i­ties will put off many en­trants ac­cord­ing to ex­perts.

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