Paignton velodrome 'will happen' pledges councillor
CYCLISTS across South Devon have been reassured of Torbay's support for creating a top off-road facility for riders in Paignton.
There were fears the council was kicking the £1.6million velodrome into the long grass after councillors voted not to commit council cash at this time.
British Cycling has pledged £780,000 to the scheme — the only 400m velodrome and 1.5km off-road track outside London and Manchester. Torbay Council was asked to match that cash for the Clennon Valley scheme.
Cyclists from as far as Tavistock, Exeter and Sidmouth as well as local riders attended the full council meeting.
Concerns were voiced at the decision to support the scheme but not commit council cash 'at this time'.
Councillors decided to ask the Torbay Development Agency to approach prospective developers or investors for match funding.
It comes as the council, through the agency, is seeking bids for a major sports and leisure facility at Clennon Valley including a high profile facility for a specific sport.
Transport councillor Robert Excell said officers are being asked to start preparing the velodrome scheme, for example by getting planning permission.
"It will happen," he said. "I am really pleased the decision had cross party support.
"This will provide a top class sporting facility for the future alongside some of the other iconic sports we hope will be coming to the Bay which will benefit local communities. I will now endeavour to get the scheme 'shovel ready' so we don't waste time. We don't believe in stagnation."
Labour councillor Darren Cowell, who had called for the decision to be delayed at the last council meeting for further information, said: "It has definitely not been delayed, that is absolutely not our intention.
"The Mayor is extremely supportive. I see it as an investment which could help pull us out of the economic woes we are facing by attracting more people to the Bay. It is also an investment in health, young people, and a reduction in crime and anti-social behaviour. It opens up new opportunities for Torbay as a cycling destination, especially if it is connected to Parkfield, and the new cycle routes in Cockington and Occombe and our overall cycling network across the Bay. Now we need an overall cycling strategy."
A spokesman for British Cycling said: "We welcome the good news and look forward to helping to bring the project to fruition as soon as possible."
Ken Robertson, South West general secretary of British Cycling, said: "We were pleased with the outcome and a nearly unanimous decision. It's a major step forward. Ninety people across Devon and Cornwall signed a letter supporting the project."
A Torbay Council spokesman said: "We are delighted with the overwhelming support from the cycling fraternity for a velodrome in Torbay and will continue to work with British Cycling and other partners to advance the proposals."
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