NEWS: Monarchs funding on hold due to Council Unwillingness

By Steve Hodgkinson, Birmingham CSC Press Officer

Birmingham Monarchs Cycle Speedway Club are likely to lose a 12K Grant because council officials aren’t helping the club, despite asking for a time restraint deadline. Council officials Dave Wagg, Lee Southall and Nigel Oliver have been involved in preparing the paperwork for the club to get a lease for the land on which our track is situated in Perry Hall Playing Fields Park which is a requirement to obtain the grant from Sport England.

Sport England have been very patient but are requesting the necessary work to be completed or the money will be withdrawn. The club have been in advanced discussions in getting the Lease sorted with only fine terms still to be completed but despite asking for a date to finalise discussions by the 13th March for the end of March, no contact has been made by any official which is further hampering the interest of the club.

The Club and track have been established in Perry Hall Playing fields in Perry Barr since 1962 and are one of the oldest established cycling clubs in the UK still running, the club at one time was the only cycling facility in the area. The club has always been self funded and often responsible for the upkeep and maintenance plus improvements that have been ongoing with very little assistance from the council.

Chairman Phil Widdas added “the club have continued to make improvements to the facilities to ensure the cycling governing body British Cycling allow us to host bigger events throughout the year with the major events going to tracks with the better facilities. This ongoing process has been solely funded by the club committee and members with grants in the past 2 years helping us achieve some our outstanding goals”.

Initial discussions with council officials started in July 2016 when it was suggested we needed a lease to get any of the work we require completed. By July 2018 discussions regarding the lease and terms started to be discussed with advanced discussions still taking place throughout 2019. We were told in April 2019 that the Commonwealth games was a priority, but nothing should interfere with our ongoing discussions.

Contact since has only been ever been made by ourselves which had also sometimes required a reminder to get in touch with us. On each of these email contacts we have stressed the urgency required to get the lease sorted or we risk losing it but each time we have been met with a lack of urgency from council officials.

The initial lease from the council was not accepted by the club as it seemed that is was more of a penalty than a reward. As a club that runs as a small non profitable club the rent of £800 plus charges was deemed excessive and an awful lot of money for a small community based club that gives youngsters (and adults) a place to train and ride and help contribute to the community. A decibel limitation of 60 was also deemed a punish which equates to normal conversation whilst 85 is the limit for a lawnmower meaning we couldn’t even mow our centre green and certainly not use a public address system which is essential for a sporting activity.

Club officials are growing tired of the seemingly lack of interest or urgency of Council officials with discussions taking place over nearly 2 years to get the lease sorted. We desperately need this funding to protect the track and surrounding area with fencing after suffering several years of break ins and vandalism at the track.

​A club official added “We have given officials long enough with a clear date of 13th March to arrange a meeting by the end of the month with the club, but we have had no response at all. It seems they are not helping us at all which is very disappointing”.

Follow the Monarchs on, on Facebook @Birmingham Monarchs Cycle Speedway Club or on Twitter @brummonarchs.