Changes have been made to the running of the Mornington Peninsula leg of this year’s Jayco Herald Sun cycling tour.
Entrants scheduled to race a circuitous route from Cape Schanck to Arthurs Seat last week faced an unexpected barrier when businesses complained about roads being closed.
It is the second time this month that Mornington Peninsula Shire has come under fire for backing events that require roads to be closed.
With less than a fortnight to go before the event, organisers of the Herald Sun tour last Wednesday readily agreed to reduce the time roads would be closed.
However, a shire permit for the Suffefest Triathlon at Mt Martha in March is yet to be determined.
Both events could have come under earlier scrutiny if the shire had earlier received a draft events policy open for public comment until later this week, Friday 1 February.
The impetus for updating the policy followed last year’s Sufferfest, which clashed with Clean-Up Australia Day and saw the esplanade closed for the cycling event between Mornington and safety Beach.
This year’s Sun Tour on Saturday 2 February clashes with the Red Hill Market and sees the closure of several roads leading to popular tourist destinations.
The 129 kilometre men’s event – called Arthurs Seat Eagle Men’s Road Stage 4 – starts at Cape Schanck at 12.30pm and finishes at Arthurs Seat at the strangely stated exact time of 3.47pm.
Most roads along the route will be closed for about 20 minutes at a time, although a section of Arthurs Seat Road faces being closed from 7.30am until 8pm.
A hurriedly-organised meeting between race organisers, business owners, shire officers and the mayor led to 11th hour changes to avert possible cancellation.
The mayor Cr David Gill told The News that he at one stage threatened to “walk out [of the meeting] arm in arm with businesses and go to council and move that [the race] be cancelled”.
“We dropped the ball on this, and it came to council four or five months ago,” Cr Gill said.
“[The organisers] went to VicRoads and got a permit first. What were we doing in that time? I’m unhappy.
“We were told things had been improved since the previous tour, but that didn’t pass the pub test.”
Cr Gill said businesspeople at the meeting ”walked out feeling very much relieved” after “major concessions” were made by the race organisers.
Greg O’Donohue of Green Olive at Red Hill, on Mornington-Flinders Road, Main Ridge, said Wednesday’s meeting “has come to a good outcome” with race organisers shortening road closure times.
“It would have been ideal if not held on a market day as it’s part of a world series and a good thing for the peninsula to be viewed around the world,” Mr O’Donohue said.
“The board of Mornington Peninsula Tourism called the meeting which led to a pretty good outcome. So it’s happy days.
“They needed to look at the [race’s] impact on the whole community.”
Notes on the Herald Sun Tour website says the organisation “aims to minimise the impact on local communities”.
“However, some road closures will apply. Residents and business directly impacted by the road closures will receive written notification prior to the event.”
The website says the tour “operates under a rolling road closure” with police asking motorists to stop until the race passes, usually about 20 minutes.
The website says the tour has returned to the peninsula “with the support of Mornington Peninsula Shire” after two years.
“The event will deliver a signi¬ficant economic impact for the region and state, and will generate major national and international media exposure, showcasing the beautiful Mornington Peninsula region to Australia and the world,” the website promises.
The agreed changes to the tour schedule on the peninsula were not supplied to The News by the shire before deadline.