AN MP has accused a Welsh Government Minister of displaying “arrogant disregard” for the needs of local residents and businesses following the controversial Velothon Wales cycle race.
David Davies hit out at Edwina Hart AM, Minister for Economy, Science and Transport, after she refused to consider compensating businesses who lost thousands of pounds in trade due to road closures.
The Monmouth MP said the Welsh Government was distancing itself from responsibility with the “feeble excuse” that it was unable to offer compensation because it had not organised the event.
Velothon Wales, which saw 15,000 professional and amateur cyclists come to south Wales on Sunday 14 June for the 140km (87m) race, was organised by Lagardere Events Unlimited UK.
“The Velothon was, quite simply, a nightmare,” said Mr Davies.
“Residents were imprisoned in their homes for hours on end and many businesses along the route suffered significant financial harm.
“It was badly organised and the communications strategy was woefully inadequate. I was lied to myself by organisers, who told me MPs had been consulted in April and backed the event. They later admitted the person I spoke to had got their ‘wires crossed’.”
The Welsh Government has pledged to spend up to £900,000 on the race over the next four years depending on the success of the inaugural event.
Mr Davies said he couldn’t support the Velothon returning to Monmouthshire in the future unless there was “significantly improved” organisation, communication and consultation with local businesses.
“Somebody needs to be held accountable for those rural businesses that were left out of pocket,” he added.
“I was very disappointed with the response I received from Edwina Hart, which I thought displayed arrogant disregard for the needs of local people and business owners. She has basically washed her hands of the furore surrounding the Velothon by making the feeble excuse that it’s nothing to do with us, Guv!
“I gather Velothon Wales and the Welsh Government believe the event has generated millions of pounds for the south Wales economy, so I fail to understand why some of this money can’t be used to compensate those who businesses were unable to operate properly as a result.”
A number of small business owners in Monmouthshire intend to collectively sue those responsible for compensation, a move backed by Mr Davies.