A CLOSED-roads cycling event has caused “four years of hell” for a community, a councillor has claimed.
Penycae councillor John Phillips hit out at the Etape Cymru event, to be held next month, over planned six-hour road closures which, he says, will leave the community “isolated”.
The planned closures were reduced from 10 hours after going before Wrexham Council’s scrutiny committee, but Cllr Phillips said the length of time was “still unacceptable”.
He said: “We have had year on year of this and the people of Penycae have had enough. Why should we lose out when other parts of the borough benefit financially?
“In this day and age it is totally unacceptable for this to happen. There are other parts of the county that have never had this race and it should be their turn.
“We have had four years of hell and it is time for a change. People have been made prisoners in their own homes.”
Drop-in sessions are being planned for people to come and have their say about the event, which travels through Wrexham and Denbighshire.
Cllr Phillips added: “I would urge residents who have concerns regarding the long road closures to attend the forthcoming meetings with the event organisers.
“The community of Penycae has been affected year on year by the long road closures and quite frankly residents need a break.
“There are many parts of Wrexham that offer the terrain and challenges that Penycae does and I would respectfully ask the race organisers to look at these locations for the 2015 event.”
The route starts and finishes at Bangor-on-Dee Racecourse and passes through Wrexham before it enters into Denbighshire through the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley Area of Outstanding Beauty
The route takes in several well-known climbs including the Horseshoe Pass which incorporates a timed King of the Mountains challenge.
The drop-in session in Wrexham will be held at Wrexham Council’s office in the People’s Market on Tuesday, September 4, between 6pm and 8pm.
Representatives of Human Race and Wrexham Council will be present to deal with individual enquiries about the route and any emerging issues.
Event director Kirsty Wilde said: “Human Race have a strict post event review policy which includes route reviews and the collation and review of feedback received from the local community and the councils.
“The 2013 review process also included attendance at the Wrexham scrutiny committee. As part of this process we identify and scrutinise all alternative routes available, considering their local impact and the safety of all involved and, where improvements can be made and are safe to do so, they will be implemented.
“Following the 2013 review we have implemented the recommendations that scrutiny submitted. These included for example a reduction in closure hours, and for Penycae not to be on the route twice.
“We have reduced the closures in Wrexham by between three to four hours from last year.”
Many riders will be supporting Wrexham-based charity Nightingale House Hospice.
Margaret Hollings, fundraising and events manager at Nightingale House Hospice, said: “The hospice is proud to be local charity partner to the Wiggle Etape Cymru again.
“It is a hugely successful local event for Nightingale House, attracting 55 participants from Wrexham, Flintshire and Denbighshire.
“Judging by the success of the previous two years, the hospice could expect to benefit from more than £10,000 in sponsorship. This makes a real difference, funding local palliative care.
“We cannot thank the organisers Human Race enough for their support.”
This year the event will also welcome ex-Welsh rugby captain Gareth Thomas as the ambassador for the ride. He will be riding to support Macmillan Cancer Support, one of the official charities of the event.
Anyone wanting to take part, can sign up at www.humanrace.co.uk/events/cycling/etape-cymru.
See full story in the Leader