Yorkshire Motorsport Festival gets underway despite concerns over local disruption and health and safety

The Yorkshire Motorsport Festival kicked off today (June 25) with organisers hoping to attract up to 12,000 visitors across 125 acres of land.

Braving the rain: vintage cars in Holmfirth this weekend for the Yorkshire Motorsport Festival (Image: Amanda Crowther)
Braving the rain: vintage cars in Holmfirth this weekend for the Yorkshire Motorsport Festival (Image: Amanda Crowther)

But Holmfirth-based events consultant Mark Bustard, who has worked on London’s New Year’s Eve fireworks display and F1 Live, says what he believes to be significant concerns about public health and safety in the light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic have been dismissed by Kirklees Council

He also says people living in the Holme Valley, where the event is taking place, have not been properly consulted meaning they will suffer disruption and restricted access to their homes.

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He called it “shameful”.

Braving the rain: vintage cars in Holmfirth this weekend for the Yorkshire Motorsport Festival (Image: Amanda Crowther)

His comments have been rejected by both the council and the event’s organisers.

A spokesperson for Kirklees Council said the authority has liaised with organisers to ensure the festival could go ahead – including cutting the planned number of visitors – originally 50,000 – by more than three-quarters.

And Ian Jordan, commercial director for the event, said he and others had been in “constant consultation” with the council over the period leading up to the festival and have complied “with every request and requirement” in regard to both safety and visitor numbers.

That includes withdrawing a live music element, introducing lateral flow testing for all visitors festival-wide and limiting visitors to 4,000 per day.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service Mr Bustard said he had written to a succession of senior figures on the council to seek assurances for a month but “without success”.

He has submitted a Freedom of Information request and also raised his concerns as a formal complaint.

He said: “According to the industry bodies there are no other events taking place accommodating 4,000 people each day – 12,000 total – outside the Events Research Programme tests, which are subject to significant conditions.

“I am awaiting feedback from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, and Public Health England, via industry bodies as the event is out of step with others across the UK.

“The whole thing is nuts.”

In a strongly-worded email to the council he claimed: “The event planning is negligent and goes against legislation, guidance and common sense.

“No other local authorities are undertaking an event of this type or scale at this time. The only comparative events taking place are part of the Events Research Programme.

“The event is offering rapid testing on site. This approach was condemned by industry groups and does not feature in any guidance.

“Testing on site for attendees will be a complete disaster. The infrastructure needed will be enormous, and the requirement for maintaining sterile areas etc., unmanageable.

“As with the lack of consultation with businesses and residents, it is shameful planning that firmly puts Kirklees on the map for all the wrong reasons.”

For the festival Mr Jordan said: “In regard to Covid-19 protection we have initiated festival-wide lateral flow testing for all visitors, competitors and trade stand operators.

“We have over 70 monitors on the festival site who will be conducting random checks to ensure compliance. We are providing sanitisation stations throughout the festival site.

“The overall acreage of the festival is in excess of 125 acres and this is an outside event. Coupled with restricted numbers the precautions we are taking are, we believe, socially responsible and with due regard to public health and welfare.

“A comprehensive risk assessment has been provided to council and we have provided all access to the site for the council officers to check on our Covid precautions.

“Those checks and inspections were completed on Thursday and the council have confirmed that we are compliant in every respect.

“We appreciate the concerns of some local residents and have done our best to accommodate any reservations directly as and when raised with us and/or on email and/or social media.”

A spokesperson for the council said: “We have worked with the organisers of the event over many weeks to make sure visitors can enjoy the weekend safely and that disruption to local residents is minimised.

“This means the number of visitors has been significantly reduced and we’ve assessed both the risks of the activities taking place and the impact of the event on surrounding areas.

“As we follow the roadmap out of Covid-19 restrictions, we hope to be able to support more events to take place in Kirklees in a way that is safe and enjoyable for visitors and local residents.”