Minister hits back over Manx Grand Prix ‘U-turn’

ANSWERING CRITICS: Minister John Shimmin MHK

ANSWERING CRITICS: Minister John Shimmin MHK

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AS government makes what is widely regarded as a U-turn over plans for the future of the Manx Grand Prix, the minister at the helm of the department in charge of motorsport has hit out at critics ‘looking for the chance to kick government’.

Earlier this year the Department of Economic Development unveiled detailed proposals to shelve most of the modern bike classes at the event and focus on classics.

The news was met with a demonstration outside Tynwald, formation of the MGP Action Group and an online petition which reached in the region of 10,000 signatures. The Action Group, an independent group unconnected with the MMCC, was active during the TT, handing out tee-shirts bearing the ‘Save the Manx’ slogan.

Ali Foster, a founder member of the campaign group, even composed and performed a humorous song about the campaign.

But, as this week’s Isle of Man Examiner reported, the DED revealed it no longer planned to cut the event short or scrap any of the modern bike classes. Instead, a three-day classic festival based around the middle weekend, incorporating the classic races on Saturday and Bank Holiday Monday as well as the Vintage Motor Cycle Club’s Festival of Jurby on Sunday, will be held.

This will be rebranded the Classic TT Races, it will be run by the MMCC and promoted by the DED. The modern races will be branded as the Manx Grand Prix Races and will continue to be run by the Manx Motor Cycle Club, with financial support from DED.

MMCC chairman Harvey Garton has said the club would be working with the DED to build and promote the event, adding: ‘There is compromise on both sides so no-one should be claiming victory.’

iomtoday understands this is not a view shared in all quarters, with many believing the pressure piled on government over their proposals has led to an about-face.

Asked by iomtoday to comment on the view that the plans, in particular sticking with the two-week format and the modern bikes, consituted a U-turn, Economic Development Minister John Shimmin said: ‘It is a shame that some negative people always seem to be looking for the chance to kick government.

‘I am enormously grateful to the many parties who contributed to our initial round of consultation in a positive way to try and improve the MGP offering and to benefit the island.

‘We have engaged with the MMCC and have come forward with proposals that will satisfy some and disappoint others - that is almost inevitable in these situations.

‘I would encourage all those on both sides of the argument to now come together and rally behind a festival which has the potential to benefit many parts of our community and to support the 2012 MGP and embrace the proposed improvements into the future.’

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