Thursday, 16 February 2012

Olympics: The eyes of the world on Molesey

Picture by Flikr user Vick jg
reproduced with her permission
MOLESEY will be seen by millions of people from all over the world this summer when it hosts three cycling races in the 2012 Olympics.

A massive global TV audience is expected to tune in to watch the fastest men and women on two wheels, as they race past the grounds of Hampton Court Palace and along the length of Hurst Road in Molesey.

They will race on to Walton, Weybridge, Woking, Guildford, the Surrey Hills and Dorking - passing hundreds of thousands of spectators lining the route - then lapping Box Hill several times and heading back to Hampton Court Way in Molesey (via Leatherhead, Oxshott and Esher).

The Men’s Cycling Event on Saturday July 28th will see the first gold medal awarded of the 2012 games, and one of the favourites is expected to be the BBC British Sports Personality of the Year (2011) Mark Cavendish.

The women’s cycling takes place the following day, Sunday 29th, with a time trial cycling event on Wednesday August 1st.

Conservative councillor Jan Fuller has been overseeing Elmbridge borough’s preparations for more than three years, and told The Molesey News what the Olympics will bring.

“There is going to be tremendous media interest from around the world, and Molesey is a key part of the route,” she said. “Elmbridge has taken the view all along that this has vast opportunities for the residents
and businesses of the borough. In 2009 our ‘visitor economy turnover’ was worth nearly £230million. The Olympics will be a wonderful advertisement for us.”

Surrey County Council, which is responsible for roads, will be decorating the route with bunting and flags and Elmbridge will be using funds which it has secured from Central Government for ‘one off projects’ to
celebrate and commemorate the games.

Cllr Fuller, who is the Elmbridge Cabinet member for leisure and culture, set-up a cross-party task group of back bench councillors to draw up a list of projects to celebrate the Olympics and the Queen’s 60th Jubilee.
The idea being to leave a “lasting legacy” in the borough.

Walton councillor Andrew Kelly, who chaired the group, said: “We will mark the route in a permanent way and this will allow cyclists to enjoy it in future; we will invite sports clubs to apply for funds; put table tennis
facilities in some parks; as well as extra plants on roundabouts and hanging baskets in Olympic or Jubilee colours.”

The ‘Welcome to Elmbridge’ signs including the one in Molesey will be replaced to reflect the borough’s status as an Olympic host borough, added Cllr Kelly.

One Olympic-inspired innovation the council plans to roll out is a ‘tourism App’, which visitors to the borough can download to their phones to get directions and information on approved local attractions and businesses.

Cllr Fuller said: “People will be flooding into Hampton Court Station. There will be tourists coming in, whether British or from overseas, and station is going to be an enormous hub.

“People will walk out and be right on the route. We hope they will watch the race and then come to Hampton Court Parade or the Walton Road shops to buy a coffee or a meal. I would encourage businesses to think outside the box and make the most of this opportunity.”

The Molesey News heard anecdotal evidence that some businesses lost trade during the Olympic trial run in August, but Cllr Fuller believes this is because many spectators last year were local people who simply went home after the action had passed by. This year you are going to get the tourists,” she said.

One downside of the Olympics passing through Molesey is that the Hurst Road and Hampton Court Way will be closed before, during and for a time after the race has moved on.

This will mean residents in some streets will be unable to leave except on foot. However if the emergency services need to reach any homes cut off by road, then the race will be stopped.

For the Saturday and Sunday races the roads will shut in the early hours to be swept clear of debris. Any cars left on the street will be towed away, but residents will receive leaflets in advance to warn them of the danger.

Cllr Fuller said: “We hope this will be a really good celebration and will leave a lasting legacy for the borough. It will be a once in a lifetime opportunity and I hope people enjoy the spectacle.”

Will the Olympics be good for Molesey? Please click on the headline of this article for the comments box where you can add your views.

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