Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Rally - More on Closed Roads

On Friday of this week, the great and the good of Scottish Motor Sport will gather at a location somewhere in Leith to discuss the progress (or lack of it?) with regard to the necessary legislation required to close public roads for motor sporting competition - as well as other forms of competition and also for local social needs.

The meeting will be hosted by up to three senior officials from Transport Scotland who will meet with representatives from Scottish Motor Sports, the Association of Scottish Motor Sport Clubs and both the Jim Clark and Mull rallies plus other 'interested parties'. I'm not even sure if the MSA will be represented as it would appear that they are undergoing some form of internal re-structuring of their own at present! No doubt we'll hear more about that too in due course.

Anyway, as I understand it, Friday's gathering is a scheduled meeting, not necessarily one which was called for a specific reason or update. 

Earlier in the year it looked as though considerable progress was actually being made right up till June when it was suggested that the required 12 week public consultation to consider the terms of the new 'Bill' would likely commence at the beginning of September. On the successful conclusion of that it was expected that the legal process would take a few more months - in time for rallying, as we know it, to resume as early as next May.

Then just when you think things are moving nicely, the Scottish Government dumps Scottish Transport Minister, Humza Yousaf after 13 months in the job and installs a new Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, one Michael Matheson MSP.

Not only that,  a new Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing was appointed at the same time, Joe FitzPatrick replacing  Aileen Campbell. Back to square one, eh?

Not quite, but such changes do have a knock-on effect as ministers are brought up to speed and their own personal influences have, or have not, an impact on the nation's priorities!

Whatever, the 12 week public consultation which should have started at the beginning of September didn't, and so far, hasn't. In other words the already flimsy timescale is slipping badly.

With no end in sight, this process has already gone on far too long as far as motor sports fans are concerned. If nothing promising comes out of Friday's meeting then perhaps other action will have to be considered. I'm not calling for a kilted warrior to run across the hills with a fiery cross calling the clans to rise against the oppressors, but perhaps some form of campaign will have to be mounted to make those who are supposed to represent our interests listen and do something, rather than just meet and talk about it.

For instance it will be interesting to see how quickly progress is made on new legislation to allow alcohol to be sold at football matches. This was banned 33 years ago after riots at a game, but there are now calls for changes to be made. Makes you wonder if they'll be selling beer at football matches long before they close the roads for rallying, eh?

I know that some of those who will be attending Friday's meeting will read this. Hopefully they might share it with their civil servant counterparts. We are a patient bunch, but we really do want some serious progress to be made.

How confident am I? When I left Mull a couple of weeks ago, I didn't re-new my hotel booking for next year. Make of that what you will.

In the meantime, I'll keep you posted if I hear anything else.

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