Keys back rules for Sunday races

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INFRASTRUCTURE Minister Phil Gawne MHK has given a pledge that legislation to allow cycle races on Sundays won’t have an impact on regular church services.

The Road Races (Amendment) Bill received its third reading in the House of Keys this week.

The aim of the legislation is to close a loophole preventing road closures for cycling events on a Sunday.

It would mean cycle races could take place on a Sunday during the Commonwealth Youth Games, taking place from September 7 to September 13.

On Tuesday, Mr Gawne told MHKs that there had been some concern from religious organisations that Sunday road closures could make it difficult for their congregations to get to church.

But he gave an assurance that race organisers would consult with church leaders before road closures were put in place.

He added that road closures would not have an impact on regular Sunday services.

Adrian Earnshaw (Onchan) said the legislation was a ‘positive, progressive move for road racing on the island’.

Martyn Quayle (Middle) said he supported the bill and welcomed the pledge, saying he was sure churches would be reassured by Mr Gawne’s statement.

Bill Henderson (Douglas North) and Juan Watterson (Rushen) were the only two MHKs to vote against the bill passing its third reading.

It passed its third reading 16 for, two against.

Until relatively recently, non-mechanical road-related closures have been taking place on Sundays under existing legislation.

But close scrutiny – prompted by the impending CYG – has shown this is not actually provided for in that legislation.

This means a number of island events such as the Soapbox Derby in Port Erin – which had to be cancelled last year when the discrepancy was discovered – and cycle races have actually been taking place illegally on Sundays.

The bill would amend the Road Races Act 1982.

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