NEWS: South East look forwards to new era

Delegates from all seven South-East Clubs attended their annual conference at Great Blakenham. A review of 2016 heralded a lot of successes with a competitive Division One of eight teams and some encouraging signs in Division Two.

Individual updates from Clubs gave either a very stable situation or even more positivity around new youngsters joining, particularly towards the end of the season. All recognised the key is retention of theses and the encouragement to transform them from Club Night members to wider forms of activity.

Two major things in 2016 were highlighted. Firstly the addition of Hellingly to the League with all Clubs acknowledging the Clubs commitment, attitude and hospitality. Hellingly in turn thanked all other Clubs for their welcome and for their own commitments in honouring fixtures at Hellingly. We all look forward to a long-standing relationship going forward.

Secondly, much of the positive attitude in the Region has been stimulated by the presence of one person who, although an Ipswich member and on loan to Great Blakenham for league racing, not only encouraged all members there but also branched out to other Clubs on training nights where his sheer enthusiasm and knowledge was a true inspiration. Cody Chadwick was that person and the Region aims to mark his commitment.

Much of the conference centred on the CS Competition Plan 2017. In particular it was important to get a common understanding of the overall principles and, equally important, the detail, especially around Graded and Home Grown rider specifications. We think we got there in the end but when individuals’ statuses are known then it will be even clearer.

There was a general positive approach to the overall Plan with, as expected, some reservations, but it was clear that the Clubs will work together to take it forward as positively as possible.

The Battle of Britain series gives the Region a great opportunity to develop the enormous breadth of talent and potential in the Region and to that end we are seeking applications for Team Manager positions at both Senior and Junior level. Interested individuals should write to Chairman Mel Perkins at by 31st December. Applications will be considered and appointments made by the Clubs at the AGM on January 15th.

Leagues are expected to be run at the same level as 2016 with the 16-heat 6-rider (plus unlimited subs) formula retained. It was acknowledged that teams with aspirations of play-offs will need to encourage participation of home-grown riders in Division 1 to ensure they can track an 8-rider team in the play-offs. One slight change is that a coin toss will take place before the nominated riders heat 16 unless a team is at least 12 points adrift.

Division 2 teams will still have a list of restricted riders who, if used, would concede 15 points. The list is based on an average of 3 points plus at any time in the last five years but next season will exclude Over-50s as well as Under-16s.

The popular South East Grand Prix series will revert to all Saturdays in 2017. This incorporates the Regional Rounds of the Youth & Junior League and will adhere to that League’s revised categories plus Senior and Veterans.

The only disappointments in 2016 were the failure to get Veterans and Cup Leagues off the ground and also neither Somersham nor Spixworth has been able to established revived Clubs. It will again be down to the County Associations to promote the development there as well as supporting Norwich to retain racing at Harford Park.

Four hours of healthy debate, lots of camaraderie and not a single cross word put the region in good stead going forward to a new era in 2017.