Cycling race 'could close' Jersey church

Gouray Church
Image caption The Rev Gavin Ashenden said the race would effectively close his church

A vicar wants to change the time or route of an international cycle race so his parishioners can get to church.

The Reverend Gavin Ashenden of Gouray Church, Jersey, said his church would effectively be cut off for the duration of the race on Sunday 15 June.

The Pearl Izumi Road Race attracts riders from across Europe including some who race in the Tour de France.

It begins at 09:00 BST and goes up the hill where the church is based, closing the road.

'Totalitarian state'

Mr Ashenden said: "I'm delighted there is going to be a festival of cycling, it is going to be a wonderful event but I want to see a course that doesn't involve the compulsory closing down of churches on the island.

"The freedom to worship and access to churches is one of the things that marks the difference between a free society and totalitarian state. It Ought to be possible to arrange a time that doesn't involve closing churches."

Donna Le Marrec from race organisers, Jersey Tourism, said it was too late to change the time now.

"We wrote to Reverend Ashenden back in February but we haven't had a response. I think we can work together to find a solution so worshipers aren't prevented from going to church.

"It is the same route used previously by the Tour de Britain and is proven. This is a prestigious event and will create a fantastic spectacle," she said.

St Martin Constable Michel Le Trocquer, who has responsibility for running the parish and closing roads, said worshipers could park on the hill itself and walk up.

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