Rally4Wales hits the 100 mile marker!

[Ruthin] Rally4Wales Contracts Limited, the company set up to repair forest roads after motorsport use in Wales has reached its first milestone – 100 miles of completed gravel road repairs.

Formed following the successful Rally4Wales campaign in 2016 to keep rallying going in the forests of Wales, the not for profit company has since completed seven repairs as of the end of June 2017, including five car rallies and two cross country style off road events.

To mark the occasion, the team behind Rally4Wales Contracts have published a factual report highlighting their real-world experiences to date, including information to hopefully help shape the future use of forest roads across Wales for the longer term.

Key points from within the report formed following review with Natural Resources Wales include:

  • The completely new system of completing road repairs is proven to work, and can be done within the fees quoted for the longer term.
  • Feedback from Natural Resources Wales and motorsport competitors using the roads has been extremely positive.
  • The future event calendar and allocation of events in Wales needs careful planning to ensure long term benefits to the roads being used.
  • An excellent working relationship has been developed between Rally4Wales and Natural Resources Wales since the project commenced in February.
  • Real improvement is being seen from the work done with residents and forestry staff already seeing a tangible benefit of roads being repaired professionally following each rally.
  • More choice of forest venues is needed to ensure that rallies do not repeat the same routes in forest blocks in short time periods as it impacts negatively on forest operations overall.

With more events planned for the remainder of 2017 including the prestigious FIA World Rally Championship round, Wales Rally GB in October, there remains a busy schedule of work planned for the rest of the year.

Jamie Edwards, Managing Director of Rally4Wales Contracts Limited:

“It’s pleasing that the model we designed from scratch following the successful Rally4Wales campaign of 2016 is working well.  Feedback from a wide range of sources is positive and we’re pleased that both NRW and rallies themselves are seeing the benefits of the roads being repaired so soon after events to an agreed professional standard. There remain challenges though as the sport needs to strongly consider how it allocates future forestry usage in Wales.

This needs to be done sustainably in order to ensure that we keep access to the forests and short-term repairs purely for rallying’s sake are avoided.  It’s time for the sport to look hard at this process for the longer term to ensure that the good work that has commenced already can be built upon for many more years to come.”

Dave Liddy, Motorsport Co-Ordinator for Natural Resources Wales:

“We look after a lot of different sites across Wales where people can enjoy the natural environment, right on their doorstep.  “The forest roads at some of these sites have achieved legendary status in the world of rallying.  “We have been working really well with Rally4Wales so fans can continue to enjoy the sport, while also making sure the forest roads of Wales are looked after.”

Paul Loveridge, Chairman of the Welsh Association of Motor Clubs (WAMC):

“WAMC would like to congratulate Rally4Wales in achieving the 100-mile landmark.  Their foresight has safeguarded Welsh forest Rallying for years to come.  The standard of their work is to a very high level that can only be to the benefit of Welsh loose surface rallying. Well done to all concerned!”

Rally4Wales works with appointed local suppliers in Wales to deliver repairs to the forest roads.  The company makes use of plant equipment ranging from graders, vibrating rollers, JCB’s and tractors when on site and operates in the role of principle contractor under the terms of CDM 2015.  The company was set up from scratch in January 2017 to mobilise in time for events being held in February.

Free copies of the report created to mark the 100 mile repair are available from the link here below:

100 Miles R4WC Web Release Final

Keep up to date with Rally4Wales work via the official Facebook page at www.facebook.com/rally4wales

ENDS/e&oe.

Rally4Wales proposes a sustainable future plan for rallying in Wales.

Rally4Wales proposes a sustainable future plan for rallying in Wales.

The #Rally4Wales campaign group (R4W) has submitted a detailed outline proposal to the Motor Sports Association (MSA), Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and key political figures in the Welsh Assembly Government. The proposal has been created in order to bring factual, evidence based solutions to the current impasse between the MSA and Natural Resources Wales.

With NRW seeking a 93% increase in fees from June 2016 onwards – R4W believes that a new solution should be developed with the relevant parties in order to provide a more sustainable future for the sport. This 93% increase is wholly unsustainable and would virtually eliminate rallying in Wales overnight – losing a £15 million industry in the process.  This is an unacceptable position for Wales.

R4W have submitted a 12 page outline proposal for a new not for profit commercial enterprise set up to manage the preparation and repair of forestry roads for rallying use. Based on hard factual evidence gained from forestry and road preparation specialists, the proposal centres on utilising a skilled contract operations team to manage, develop and repair the roads for future rallying requirements. The proposed delivery team has their own specialist plant equipment and supply chain in place already to be able to complete the works.

An extensive reverse engineering and data analysis project has also been completed by Rally4Wales in recent weeks to analyse the special stages used across Wales over the past two years.  This project looked at routes used, stage mileages run and single/double usage analysis to identify true cost breakdowns.  This has further helped shape the proposal as it is purely fact and evidence based.

A vital part of the proposal is a strong emphasis on social value and community benefit for rural Wales. R4W recognises that NRW needs to be shown to acting responsibly not only as a business, but also in how it provides social value from its own business operations in the country it serves.

R4W are proposing that work based training and direct work experience opportunities will be made available to young people in the rural areas where the works are undertaken, potentially leading to future employment. These would be completed in partnership with local colleges with a strong emphasis on civil engineering courses and student development through practical works.

R4W also want to see NRW encouraged to ensure a range of alternative route options are open to rally organisers for the longer term, and that sustainable usage of the roads for rallying is at the forefront of discussions.  The proposal is geared towards improving the roads for NRW – at zero cost to them for the longer term.

As a campaign group representing competitors and the wider rallying community, it is in everyone’s interest to improve the quality of the roads being used to encourage more involvement in the sport.  Better roads equals happier competitors. Happier competitors will encourage more participation, leading to more competitors being involved.  Currently, the very opposite is happening – largely due to poor quality stage conditions on a repeated basis.  This is of great concern to Rally4Wales.

R4W also recognise that there are a number of factors that contribute to road damage – ranging from forestry operations, poor weather, poor drainage, and overuse of rally stages in short timeframes.  Again, the proposal has been written to propose better stewardship of the roads to ensure the very best possible stage conditions for competitors and organisers for the longer term.

Jamie Edwards, Campaign Co-ordinator for R4W: 

“We fully believe that the clear business model now presented to all parties is a well-researched, factual and sustainable basis to solving this ongoing situation. As experienced contract negotiators in our own right, we are equally confident that the proposal would meet with the requirement of Natural Resources Wales to eliminate the cost from the public purse that they have highlighted in their own figures recently.  It is our understanding that this is a major stumbling block in the negotiations and that zero expenditure should come from the public purse to subsidise the sport.

This new model can provide Natural Resources Wales with a cost saving of £300,000 per year (nearly £1 Million over a 3 year period which R4W would request) and also improves the social value that rallying brings to their forestry operations for the longer term through community benefits. Essential to this is that the quality of road preparation and repair would also increase – which is vital to rallying competitors who are disillusioned with current stage conditions due to patching or poor repairs.

Overall, we firmly believe that the R4W proposal provides a clear and sustainable pathway for the sport of forest rallying to continue and prosper in its spiritual home here in Wales.  It should give both the MSA and rally organiser’s confidence that the single most critical factor in any forest stage event – road quality – would be professionally and carefully managed to a clearly defined, audited and quantified standard. By having this defined standard in place, it should also give NRW confidence that their estate is being carefully and professionally developed at no direct cost to themselves.”

Historically, change has not always been well received by the rallying community. There has been a long history of sticking to old ways and old habits. Rally4Wales passionately believe that the MSA and NRW now have a great opportunity to form a new, modern contractual relationship that can safeguard the future of the sport for the longer term. With a positive reaction received to the proposal from leading political figures in Wales, the time has come for all parties to take positive and direct action to save our sport – and soon.

What is #Rally4Wales about?

Background:

You may be aware that the MSA and Natural Resources Wales are currently unable to agree on new forestry charges (rate per mile) for the provision of special stage forest rallies in Wales.
Currently, the existing deal expires early in June 2016 following a brief extension period. After this point, there is no agreement in place which means that the future of forest rallying in Wales is unclear.

What does Natural Resources Wales want?

In short, they have told the MSA that they want to double the cost to use forest roads for rallying in Wales from June 2016. They have taken this stance as they believe that they have been massively undercharging for road repairs for ‘many years’. This new claim has been met with scepticism by the rallying community who have seen the standard of road repairs diminish in the last couple of years. Yet according to Natural Resources Wales, there is a £300,000 difference between fees received from rallying use in 2015 and what it has allegedly cost them to prepare and repair the roads for rallying in that period. Could they really have spent over £650,000 on road repairs in one year? ‪#‎Rally4Wales‬ finds this claim hard to believe without clear evidence.

Isn’t this just an issue for Wales?

No. The Forestry Commission in England and Scotland have renewed their contracts with the MSA for gravel rallying use for another year and increased their charges from 2015 rates by 0.7%. This is totally at odds with what NRW are claiming in Wales. Can it be the case that the FC in England and Scotland have also been hugely undercharging for repair work for years and are still prepared to do so for another year? Surely not?

The greater concern is that if Natural Resources Wales do not change their position – it could spell the end for forest rallying in Wales due to excessive costs. Crucially, if they ‘get away’ with that cost increase – then it sets a dangerous precedent for the FC in England and Scotland to follow suit should they wish to do so.

It’s important to note that rallying is worth £15 million a year to the Welsh economy based on MSA research. It play’s a huge part in the Welsh tourism industry, supporting rural Welsh businesses.

What is #Rally4Wales?

#Rally4Wales is a lobby group. The aim is to apply political pressure and question the stance taken by Natural Resources Wales – who as yet have not provided any breakdown on how they justify their cost claims. #Rally4Wales is to petition the Welsh Assembly Government to query why NRW’s cost calculations are so wildly different to their counterparts in England and Scotland.

What you can do to help?

It’s difficult for the MSA to lobby the Welsh Government on this issue whilst they remain in negotiation with NRW. However, #Rally4Wales has been set up independently from the MSA to voice the concern of the wider rally and tourism community. Wales has a range of Assembly Members and MP’s operating within the country.

We’re asking all our friends in the rally and tourism communities to raise awareness of the campaign by emailing, tweeting, Facebooking and generally making people aware of how important rallying is to the Welsh economy.

Diolch/Thank you for your support. We must act quickly. The threat to our sport is real, and now.

Our official Twitter page is @officialR4W and our Facebook group is at http://www.facebook.com/rallyingmeansbusiness