Jim Clark Rally to go ahead as forest event

Friday night, Duns town centre stage of 2014 Jim Clark Rally''Scott Russell / Adam Russell
Friday night, Duns town centre stage of 2014 Jim Clark Rally''Scott Russell / Adam Russell

The review group set up to look at safety in the wake of three tragic deaths at the 2014 Jim Clark rally has published its final recommendations

The Review Group on Motor Sport Event Safety was set up by the Scottish Government following the deaths of three spectators at the Jim Clark Rally on 31 May 2014

Minister for Sport, Health Improvement and Mental Health, Jamie Hepburn, announced the recommendations to Parliament this week.

The key recommendations that the review group consider to be critical to improving rally safety cover many different groups involved with the sport.

Tighter controls over volunteer marshals have been suggested, including the introduction of a mandatory marshal licensing scheme, which would require marshals to obtain a licence having undergone mandatory training and gained experience.

There is also a call for input from Police Scotland, including, where appropriate, police supporting implementation of safety plans, a liaison officer attending rallies and training support at a national level.

Improving safety of the media through better management of press attendance at rallies was highlighted, including a press accreditation scheme.

The review also recommends ground rules be drawn up for spectators, marshals and competitors on assisting cars back onto the road, a common practice at rallies, as well as improved communication with spectators and the adoption of international standards for identifying high risk spectator areas. And there is a call for marshal numbers to be published in the safety plan and adhered to for each rally stage

The recommendations come as it was revealed the Jim Clark Rally has been listed as a round of the Scottish Rally Championship for this year as usual, with the Reivers Rally scheduled for Sunday, May 31.

Clerk of the course Russell Blood will be stepping down from the post to concentrate on bringing the safety recommendations into force for a return to road racing in 2016.

“Ninety per cent of these are things that we are doing already, so nothing in there took us by surprise,” he said. “The rally will take place using forest stages this year - we are not panicking at all.”

Local MSP John Lamont has already called on Scottish Borders Council to reconsider its decision to cancel this year’s event, especially in light of the tourism benefits it brings.