Wildlife charity's plea for cycle race route to changed
A WILDLIFE charity has expressed its "dismay and frustration" over road closures due to this summer's cycle races.
The Wildlife Aid Foundation (WAF), which deals with over 20,000 wildlife emergencies every year, says that it has tried to persuade Surrey County Council and Ride London to find an alternative route for the annual cycling championships through Surrey.
WAF's veterinary hospital is in Randalls Road, Leatherhead, which has been closed to traffic for at least one day each year for the past few years due to various cycling events ranging from the Surrey Cycle Classic in 2011 and the Olympic road races (over an entire weekend) in 2012 and this year faces yet another all-day closure for Ride London 2013.
The closure of the road effectively puts a stop to staff and volunteers getting to and from the WAF hospital, prevents the charity's emergency vehicle from responding to callouts, and stops members of the public from bringing in injured animals.
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WAF founder Simon Cowell MBE said: "We have had meetings with Surrey County Council and Ride London but all to no avail. The best they could come up with was a plan for access to the WAF hospital via a side road but this is not feasible as it was tried in previous years and failed. The fact is that for the third year running we are faced with having to virtually 'shut up shop' for the day.
"And now we are being told that Ride London will be an annual event and in all likelihood we are going to face this terrible disruption once a year every year. Why can't they re-route these cycle races so that we get some respite? In the last two years animals died because we could not get out onto the road to respond to callouts from the public.
"We are therefore asking Ride London and SCC to give us their categorical assurance that 2013 will be the last year that Randalls Road is shut for an entire day for cycle races. Surely they can find an alternative route for 2014 and beyond?"
He added: "SCC wouldn't close a road with a hospital on it, but they clearly don't care about Surrey's wildlife or they would apply the same policy here. I think it shows how low animals and the environment are on SCC's list of priorities, despite their claim to be 'green' and 'wildlife-friendly'.
"We are the only '24/7' wildlife hospital in Surrey and for us to be in a state of siege for a day, with vehicle access to our hospital blocked, is hugely disruptive and inevitably leads to wildlife fatalities that could otherwise be avoided.
"Animal lives will be lost due to the closure of Randalls Road. Please let it be the last year this happens."