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AM to meet organisers over national rally cancellation

Created on 16/01/2017 @ 09:36
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The cancellation of one of the area's top rally's that also includes the first round of the MSA British Rally Championship is a significant concern, according to Montgomeryshire AM, Russell George.

The Mid Wales Stages, which has included a stage of the British Rally Championship for a number of years, had been due to take place in March. Based in Newtown, it uses local forests.

But with continued concern over the charges for using local forests owned and managed by the Welsh Government's Natural Resources Wales department, rally organisers have decided to cancel it.

The event places Newtown and Montgomeryshire on the national and international map and had ben due to be filmed by Channel Four and others for broadcast.

With rallying bringing in at least £15 million a year in economic benefits, AM Russell George, has now raised the matter at the Assembly after taking it up last year with ministers following concern from rally organisers throughout Wales.

It is understood the latest issue is over the charging of VAT on top of the forestry costs.

Mr George raised the matter with Assembly Business Minister Jane Hutt. He told her: "I have previously highlighted the success of forest stage rallying in Wales, which is worth £15 million a year to the Welsh economy. Now, we did have a very encouraging response form the Welsh Government back in July, which suggested that Natural Resources Wales and the Motor Sports Association had come to an agreement on charges for road repairs and maintenance, and I was very grateful for that.

"It now appears that the mid Wales stages for the 2017 British rally championship have been cancelled due to uncertainty over the charges in rallies in NRW forests. Now, I believe that this is in regards to having to charge VAT. The immediate consequence to this, of course, is that the cancellation will have a huge knock-on effect on the mid Wales economy and will lose thousands and thousands of pounds to the local area.

"You will appreciate that rallying and motor sports bring in lots of visitors and a vital income to mid Wales. So, I would be grateful if the appropriate Cabinet Secretary could investigate this and bring forward a statement to the Chamber."

In response, Ms Hutt said: "I think it is a matter of clarifying what the reasons are for that cancellation, because, clearly, as you said, there’s a very positive response to the use of our forests for these championships, which are welcome. But, there are reasons for cancellations, and I think it’s important that we clarify, and I think the Cabinet Secretary will ensure that that is brought to your attention, and for members as well."

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