THE people of the Isle of Wight and far beyond have given huge support for the new Diamond Races TT event next year — but the Island’s Tory MP Bob Seely has yet to be convinced by its organisers.
As reported in the County Press on Wednesday, the Diamond Races — an event given the backing of the Isle of Wight Council — will be coming in October 2021.
Lasting four days, with three of them for time trial motorcycle racing, it will be run over a 12.4-mile closed road circuit in the Chale district and on a stretch of the Military Road with speeds of up to 210mph.
The road race is expected to attract up to an estimated 40,000 spectators, which many believe will be a shot in the arm to the Island’s tourist industry and support businesses ailing because of coronavirus.
The controvsersial issue has sparked debate with hundreds of people already taken — and still continue to take — to social media to share their thoughts about the event.
The majority clearly support the Diamond Races, but a modest percentage are opposed to it on mainly road safety and noise grounds.
Among the many supporters is Karen Fletcher, who said: “What a fantastic new venture for the Island and for businesses. It will extend the tourist season — and that can only be good for all.
“For those inconvenienced, will only be for four days.”
Ben Alberys echoed Karen’s sentiments.
He said: “The event, if marketed correctly, would bring millions into the local economy.”
Mark Hitchman said: “Incredible news — great for tourism, Island businesses, local pubs etc.
“Exactly what the local economy needs to pull itself out of the Covid 19 slump, with yet another world class event putting the Island on the global map.”
Also, Janet Trow expressed what many said.
“Always thought the Island would be ideal for this. It would bring much needed cash, plus brilliant entertainment,” she added.
“It would be no more intrusive than festivals.”
Martin Patto said: “A great boost for business. We need a cash injection on the Island.”
However, safety, noise pollution, consultation processes and the effect the TT races will have on other road users, including cyclists and horse riders, are among the points of concern.
The Diamond Races are modelled on the Isle of Man’s world-famous TT event and will see motorbikes roaring along the Military Road at speeds of up to 210mph.
Bob Seely attended the recent Diamond Races launch event, at which an expert team from the world of motorsport (including the Isle of Man TT) explained how the event would be run and the extensive safety work being done behind the scenes.
Yet he was not convinced by what they had to say.
Mr Seely was adamant more consultation was required before he could reach a view on whether or not to back it — particularly with the community living around the race area, cyclists, horse owners and businesses.
“I fear this race may turn the route into a race track all year round. I want to know what the organisers and the council will do to address this,” said Mr Seely.
A letter was sent to residents living along the TT route by organisers on Monday seeking their views.
John James disagreed with Mr Seely’s opinion on cyclists.
“Why involve cyclists? There are lots of places to cycle and many are far nicer than the Military Road,” he said.
“I speak as someone who has cycled for decades. This will be a great event. Let people have some fun.”
Among those who do not support the event on safety grounds, was Carole Bailey.
She commented: “Awful idea, very narrow roads, small rural villages and a cliff edge.
“How many more deaths would there be when the local lads decide to do the route?
“Would our emergency services cope? Who bears the cost of air ambulance lifts?
Stella Bassett had her concerns too: “I don’t think it’s the event many are worried about, it will clearly be organised and probably considerably less disruptive than the festival.
“The worry is the number of wannabes who will be riding ‘the circuit’ before and after and the thought that those roads will never be safe or peaceful again.”
David Shoulder added: “An irresponsible idea — totally out of step and at odds with the green agenda.
“Makes no sense encouraging noisy, polluting, high speed motorbikes to the Island.”
However, Jackie Clark, who has lived in an area popular for TT racing, countered by saying: “I lived on the Isle of Man in the early 90s. The TT is a phenomenal event.
“Bring it on for the Isle of Wight.”
Steve Churches gave the Diamond Races the thumbs up.
“Another event with the potential to put the Island on the world map in another sphere,” he said.
“Motorsport is immensely popular and, for the most part, when they lock down at the end, they will leave the area in the same — if not better — condition than when they arrived.
“Planning for the crowds must be an imperative.”