THE authority that refused to allow motorcycles to take part in the world's oldest motoring event said it was not consulted about "significant changes" to the road.

The Auto-Cycle Union, which carries out safety inspections for motorcycles on the Brighton Speed Trials track, said it was only recently made aware of a new two-way cycle lane and pedestrian crossing points.

Organisers say the ACU inspector said the grip on the new green cycle lane in Madeira Drive meant the track was no longer safe for motorcycles to take part in the event.

As a result, motorcycles will not be part of the speed trials at this year's event, which is due to take place on September 4 for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic. Cars will be involved.

Gary Thompson MBE BEM from the ACU said: "Whilst we appreciate the history of the Brighton Speed Trial event, there have been significant changes to Madeira Drive for which no consultation has taken place with the ACU who are responsible for inspecting the quarter mile used for the Sprint and were only recently made aware of those changes made.

"Having visited Madeira Drive on Tuesday, a full report has been compiled which considered Madeira Drive unsuitable for a high-speed Sprint event to take place this year. However, the ACU are willing to engage with Brighton and Hove Council and the race organiser to discuss control measures to be put in place to mitigate risk and hopefully allow next year’s event to take place."

In June, Conservative Robert Nemeth questioned the council on what it was doing to ensure changes to the road do not affect licences being issued to the Brighton Speed Trials.

Responding on behalf of the council, Green councillor Amy Heley said it was working with organisers to ensure the event could take place and a preliminary inspection from the Motorsport Association had taken place.

The Motorsport Association carries out safety inspections for cars and has granted a licence for this year's event. The Argus asked whether the council had invited the ACU to also conduct an inspection.

Cllr Nemeth followed up: "What would the council's position be if it turns out we've inadvertently breached the event's licensing requirements?"

"I don't think we have," Cllr Heley replied.

Following the news motorcycles would not be allowed at the event after the failed safety inspection, a council spokesman said: “The Speed Trials are going ahead as planned with motor vehicles.

“We have not refused a licence for motor cycle participation, but we are aware that the Auto Cycle Union has done so for this year.

“We recognise that they have every right to err on the side of caution when making such decisions.

“We have provided licensing bodies with expert evidence on Madeira Drive road surfaces and we have not been informed of the detail relating to the decision of the Auto Cycle Union.

“We hope to welcome motorcycles back to the Speed Trials in 2022.”

Cllr Nemeth added: “Ever since forcing the Green and Labour Coalition into dropping proposals to scrap the Speed Trials, I have queried the issue of the road actually being compliant with motoring regulations.

"This is an entirely separate matter to the council granting permission for the event and an obvious concern given the extreme changes to Madeira Drive that took place without consultation of all users when developing transport policy.”

The Brighton Speed Trials has been running on Madeira Drive, Brighton, since 1905 after resident Sir Harry Preston convinced the town council to tarmac the road for motoring events. This was one of the first times tarmac had been used around the world.

Organisers believe the ACU made the wrong decision in refusing to give a licence for motorcycles for this year's event.

Chairman of the Brighton and Hove Motor Club, Len Wooller, said: "We've put in all of the safety requirements and it's a blow to the event quite honestly.

"The motorcycles are an integral part of it, they have been coming for a long time and they're a good crowd-pleaser. Some people might not come if they find the bikes are not coming.

"I think they (ACU) have ignored the report that shows the grip between the two different surfaces will not be that different. It's a wide track and people will stay off the green stuff.

"If the road was resurfaced, that would make the event safe in the eyes of the ACU if that's the main concern, but that's unlikely to happen."