Express & Star

On your bike! Traders say charity ride will cost them thousands

Furious traders have hit out saying the biggest charity bike ride to ever pass through the Black Country and Staffordshire will cost them thousands of pounds.

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Bill Wilkinson, with a copy of the Velo Birmingham road closure information, at The Wine House in Halfpenny Green

Bosses at businesses like Halfpenny Green Vineyards and Wild Zoological in Bobbington say they knew nothing about road closures including Tom Lane (B4176) and the Six Ashes Road on September 24 for the first Velo Birmingham ride as up to 15,000 riders make their way past on a 100-mile charity ride.

Those roads will be shut from 7am to 1.30pm.

They and other traders said they only found out this week and held a crisis meeting on Thursday to air their views and decide on a course of action after saying they have been kept in the dark up until now.

Dozens of businesses will be affected with road closures as Velo cycling festival – which starts and ends in Birmingham – passing through areas Wombourne, Lower Penn, Kinver and Halesowen next month.

Map of the route

Famous faces including Baggies keeper Ben Foster and former England cricket star Ashley Giles are on the ride.

But traders claim they have been given no official notification and that all relevant businesses are "passing the buck."

Bill Wilkinson, chairman of the committee at Halfpenny Green Marketing Group, said a minimum of 25 companies will be affected just by the closure of Tom Lane.

The vineyards has a restaurant, gift shop and coarse fishing on site among other businesses.

He said: "It was a total shock to find out they were closing the road, effectively shutting down all our businesses and no-ones told us anything about it.

"Someone living nearby had a letter – that's the first we heard about it, nothing direct.

"We just feel everyone's passing the buck. We're told it's arranged by Birmingham City Council who seem to have a total disregard for everyone else.

"And everyone is passing the buck, we've tried speaking to the council who haven't got back to us, the highways department told us to speak to Velo and they don't want to know.

"I don't want to stop the fun and be awkward for no good reason, but there's a lot of one-man operations here and this is something they've been planning for years and we've heard nothing, we've got just a few weeks to prepare for the hit."

Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet support member for highways and transport, Helen Fisher, said: “The Velo Birmingham event will bring thousands of people into South Staffordshire and we’re pleased to be able to showcase our county.

"We do understand that on the morning of September 24 there will be some disruption to communities along the route and the event organisers are doing all they can to minimise this.

"The route was changed last month which has brought more of it into South Staffordshire and we understand this has been communicated to all affected residents and businesses."

A map of the route has featured on the Velo website since earlier this year.