Wednesday 9 March 2022

Rally - Coast2Coast Postponed

The news that the Stranraer based Coast2Coast Rally which was scheduled to run over Friday and Saturday 6/7 May has been postponed has come as a bitter blow to Scottish rallying but more especially to Machars Car Club. After years of effort it appeared that success was  finally within reach until snatched away with weeks to go.

Similarly, Glenrothes Motor Sports Club had an event and route planned and despite huge local support a vociferous minority scuppered their plans.

If anyone out there still thinks Closed Road Rallying will be the answer to the diminishing sport of forest rallying then they simply don't understand the problems.

For instance, when organising a forest event, the organisers have to deal primarily with one main landowner, plus a few others, farmers and residents along the route.

On the other hand, any team planning a closed road event has to deal with multiple landowners, road users and other interested parties. That means meeting and dealing with farmers, estate owners, businesses  and residents who may live on or near the roads being used. And of course they also have to comply with the Road Traffic Act as well as other national regulations and observe local by-laws.

Using public roads is not simply a matter of erecting a barrier at one end and another at the far end. All other road users have to be advised not just local folk and farmers who live along the route but all those using such roads including the blue light services Police, Fire Brigade, Ambulance operators, Doctors and midwives and all other NHS services. All public utility providers such as gas, electricity and telephone companies as well as the Post Office and delivery firms have to be advised plus Bus and taxi companies. That means  countless meetings, phone calls and email messages.

Even when all such agreements have been sought, there are always a few who will require additional assurance. What might be given as a casual agreement initially can become a source of anxiety as the date draws nearer and doubts start to creep in. More information is sought and more assurances have to be given and that all takes up even more time.

In some other parts of the UK the culture is different. Rallying is a way of life even for those who don't actually participate. We simply don't have this culture across the mainland - yet. It will take time.

It was all looking so promising. Stranraer and its former ferry car park providing the ideal base and the surrounding roads providing a real challenge, not to mention the enthusiastic support of the majority of people, businesses, local authorities and the local sponsors. The people of the furthermost part of the south west have lost out on a chance of a significant financial injection and the chance to promote the area as a tourist destination in its own right.

Meanwhile Mull, the Jim Clark and Argyll have started the wheel rolling, but honestly anyone who takes on such a task has to be either a workaholic or a masochist - or both! Machars CC might be down at present, but they're not out!

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