Motorcycle meetings granted greater road closures flexibility

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Assembly delivers road closure flexibility

Organisers of motorcycling meetings have been granted greater flexibility to re-schedule race days by the Northern Ireland Assembly.

The move follows weather disruptions at a number of meetings this year including the abandonment of the main race day at the North West 200.

From next year, race promoters will be able to use up to two contingency days.

A contingency day must be one of the two days immediately before or after a race or practice date.

Transport Minister Danny Kennedy introduced the road closures bill in the Assembly, which could open the door to racing on Sundays at meetings such as the North West 200.

The minister secured accelerated passage for the bill through the Assembly to ensure that the new arrangements would be in place for the 2014 racing season.

"I would like to thank the members of the Assembly for the interest they have taken in this important bill," added the minister.

"Every year many thousands of people attend car and motor cycle road racing events across Northern Ireland.

"Motor sport significantly benefits our economy particularly in terms of tourism and support for local businesses."

Ulster Grand promoters welcomed the Assembly's decision.

"I am heartened by the news that the amended bill has been passed as it will allow us to build robust contingency plans into our overall event management plan for bike week," said Noel Johnston, clerk of the course at the Dundrod club.

"We've lost a lot of money over the years due to terrible weather conditions so the flexibility to change which days we run the races at a day's notice will certainly help safeguard the future of the event."

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