The return of the Jim Clark Rally is edging nearer and organisers are asking local people to take part in the Scottish Government’s current consultation on motorsports on closed public roads.
Named after Berwickshire’s famous world champion racing driver in the 1960s, the rally started in 1970 (the closed roads format starting in 1997) and took place annually until disaster struck in 2014 when three people died after being hit by a car on one of the stages on closed roads near Swinton.
For the past four years there has been no Jim Clark Rally on closed roads (in 2015 it was run on forest tracks at Kielder), costing the local economy £3.5m a year in lost revenue.
Various reviews of safety at motorsport events and a Fatal Accident Inquiry into the death of Iain Provan, 64, Elizabeth Allan, 63, and Len Stern, 71, are now concluded - Sheriff Kenneth Maciver ruling that the deaths could have been avoided had it been clear that spectators or photographers were prohibited from standing in the area where the accident took place - and all recommendations have been taken on board.
The Scottish Government is now looking at introducing new legislation to cover closed road motor sports and has opened up an online public consultation which runs until January 28, 2019. They are inviting views on proposals to extend a local authority’s powers to include closure of public roads for motorsports events and the introduction of a two stage authorisation process - event organisers would need a motorsports permit from a named motorsports governing body before an application could be made to a local authority for a motorsports order.
A statement on Jim Clark Rally web site reads: “Contingency planning goes ahead with the intention to reintroduce closed road rallying to the Scottish Borders.
“Over recent months, the organisers have been working closely and intensively with the Scottish Government and Transport Scotland on the need to change existing legislation and introduce new legislation. They have also maintained good relationships with Scottish Borders Council, the police, local business groups and agricultural interests as well as local MPs MSPs and have been greatly encouraged by their response.”
On the Jim Clark Rally Facebook page they ask for people to play their part in the consultation process saying: “We need your support. A positive outcome would allow the revival of the Jim Clark Rally.”