The island’s Bishop is not going to oppose plans to make it easier to close the roads on a Sunday for motor sport.
Bishop Robert Paterson was talking to iomtoday.co.im in the wake of consultation for new road racing legislation.
Christians have worshipped here for 1,500 years so it’s up to the Isle of Man to respect that tooBishop Paterson
He said personally he had no problem with Sunday afternoon racing, with most church services taking place in the mornings.
‘Peel has an afternoon choral service but I don’t think that would be affected,’ he said.
‘Of course there is a balance to be drawn when people come over to see racing that could be postponed by poor weather on a Saturday.
‘They could go home without seeing anything and that’s not satisfactory. But the paradox to that is that Christians have worhsipped here for 1,500 years so it’s up to the Isle of Man to respect that too when there are still significant numbers - perhaps 10,000 people - who are affected.’
The Road Races Bill 2015 is currently open to public consultation until September 17, and if enacted, it would also tighen up legislation in relation to the appointment of marshals.
John Houghton MHK (Douglas North), who is overseeing the bill said it also simplified the legislation by consolidating a number of provisions currently contained in two other acts.
‘It allows organisers to organise racing on closed roads on a Sunday,’ he said.
Currently it is possible for racing to take place on a Sunday but only if an event is delayed, by poor weather, for example, and defaults to that day. The new act would allow an event to be scheduled specifically for a Sunday.
However, in deference to people attending church services, any event on the TT course, for example, would not be permitted to take place until after 1pm.
Similar practices are adopted in the UK where, for example, racing at Aberdare Park in Wales takes place on Sundays but a break during the morning avoids disturbing church services.
‘A hill climb taking place on the Sloc may well be permitted on a Sunday morning, but a race could not take place on the whole of the TT course until after 1pm,’ Mr Houghton said.
Mr Houghton said changes in the law would also eliminate an anomoly.
Currently, marshals are officially appointed by the chief constable, although the island’s police withdrew from marshalling duties some years ago. The new act would give the power of appointment and dismissal of marshals to event organisers.
A number of incidents at this year’s TT races saw people appear in court after trespassing on closed roads.
‘One hooligan was sent to prison for trespassing on a closed road,’ Mr Houghton said.
‘But currently if you are found on a closed road you can only be reported to the court, not arrested. This person was actually arrested under the PUblic Order Act and imprisoned under the same legislation. Strictly, it was not for being on the closed road that he was sent to prison.’
The new bill will make it an offence in its own right, with stiffer penalties, Mr Houghton said.
It will also means private land can be designated as a prohibited area but only with the permission of the land owner.