We’ll stick to controversial TT changes planned for next year

Monday 31st October 2022 3:35 am
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Peter Hickman on the opening lap of the Senior TT
Peter Hickman on the opening lap of the Senior TT (Dave Kneale )

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The Department for Enterprise has announced that it will stick to its planned TT 2023 schedule, in spite of objections from residents.

Next year’s festival will run from Monday, May 29, until Saturday, June 10, with the first race on Saturday, June 3.

The Senior race is now planned to take place on Saturday. June 10, with Sunday 11 as a contingency day.

Having been pressured into a second consultation, the government’s summary of this shows that more than 1,400 people or businesses replied, 1,032 of which are island-based.

While the consultation showed support for shorter race days, with 742 positive comments to 597 negative, as well as 103 who didn’t answer, more than 50% of respondents opposed racing on Sundays.

The decision to race on Mad Sunday, in effect bringing to an end one of the TT’s main events for non-racers, proved controversial as respondents said it would further impact those living inside the course, particularly those who attend church or community events such as Peel Day.

In response to this, the DfE said that the race times are limited on Sundays to between 1.30pm and 5.30pm and would ‘allow ample time for attendance at Sunday service and time to return home’.

It further said that it ‘appreciates the cooperation of all island residents, especially those who live on the court’ and said the shorter race days and limited closing time on Sunday race days would limit the impact and ‘give residents confidence in any plans they wish to make around the closures’.

The DfE also said its schedule should limit the impact on events around the island.

As well as opposing Sunday racing, more than 900 respondents were against the decision to add additional race days, with concerns cited over further disruption for islanders. The DfE said in response: ‘The fixed duration of the event is reduced from potentially 15 days (2019) and 14 days (2022) to 13 days (2023).

‘This combined with shorter planned days and the requirement to open the TT Mountain Course on working days between 5pm and 6pm should keep disruption to a minimum to all.’

The government also sees this as important to growing the TT.

The final summary of responses from people and local businesses focuses on using the Bank Holiday Monday for qualifying.

While there were those opposed to this on the grounds of taking away a Bank Holiday from people who want to spend it doing as they chose, the government said that this will allow riders to have a full day of qualifying and the ‘disruption to the local workforce and schools would be minimised’.

While respondents to the public consultation were broadly against most of the changes, the government does have support from companies in enforcing the new schedule.

The Steam Packet said it had already sold tickets based on the TT ‘23 schedule and ‘cannot change bookings to accommodate a different race schedule due to outbound capacity available to change bookings’.

It also didn’t want to see this changed as it ‘would involve additional booking administration’.

Equally, feedback from the Chamber of Commerce said the visitor economy forum believed the schedule should be stuck to as ‘changing the schedule for 2023 now will have a detrimental impact on visitors’.

Speaking of the decision to stick with the schedule, newly appointed member for tourism and motorsport Tim Crookall MHK said: ‘I would like to thank all those who have contributed to our research over the past number of years including those who took the time to contribute to the public consultations.

‘I strongly believe the confirmed schedule for 2023 will bring in a number of long-term benefits to the event and the Isle of Man.

‘The TT returned in 2022 after a two-year hiatus and ushered in significant changes designed to take the event forward into a new era of success.

‘The new schedule is a key piece of that jigsaw and unlocks greater potential for more visitors to come to our island and experience the event at a time when it is attracting new audiences around the world with increased broadcast content and distribution.’

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