AFTER a rocky start trying to promote potentially the biggest motorsport event ever held on the Isle of Wight, Diamond Races organisers believe they are winning over their doubters.

With an event predicted to pump in excess of £12.5m into the local economy, it appears there is widespread Island support for an event one day hoped to rival the world famous Isle of Man TT.

The event, held over four days, will feature sidecar and electric bike demos, lightweight 650cc supertwin racing, Super Sport 600-675cc and the main event, the Superbike 1000cc.

Despite Covid, organisers still plan to hold it on a date in October next year.

Isle of Wight County Press:

But in the parishes of Chale, Brighstone and Shorwell, within which the 12.4-mile TT course lies, the mood is not as positive among their residents.

When the Diamond Races was launched in July to a great fanfare, opposition was immediately stirred among most parishioners who live along and around the circuit — their torch held aloft by sceptical Island MP Bob Seely.

However, the Diamond Race team have since worked extremely hard to try to win over the doubters with a series of meetings with the three parish councils, with all concerns responded to — predominantly to those vehemently opposed to the event.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Chale has now come out in support of it and there is encouraging support in Shorwell, with a petition in favour signed by almost half of the 500 parishioners there, but with a small group set firmly against it, unmoved.

Diamond Races representatives faced questions and concerns from parish councillors and around 30 residents of Shorwell, in a Zoom meeting lasting more than three hours on Monday.

Brighstone, however, remains divided, with parish clerk Joy Walker saying the large volume of letters received for and against had kept her busy. and that the parish council wants to hold a consultation with villagers soon to test the temperature of feeling.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Concerns raised among the parish councils include speed safety, the length of time roads would be closed, access for emergency services vehicles and those bringing their own motorcycles to use the TT circuit.

Diamond Races posted booklets to residents detailing how the event would be run and how it would mitigate any of the burning issues residents currently have.

Islander, Paul Sandford, CEO and co-founder of the Diamond Races, said: “We got off to a rocky start four months ago and recognise there was more we could’ve done at a local level, in the affected communities.

Isle of Wight County Press: Diamond Races CEO and co-organiser, Paul Sandford.Diamond Races CEO and co-organiser, Paul Sandford.

“We’ve been making great efforts to put that right by engaging with the parishes.

“They want to be involved in our new residents’ liaison committee, which will have representatives of affected communities.

“Many have fed off rumour and misinformation, so we need to correct that.

“The residents’ information booklet sets out in pure fact what we’re doing, when we’re doing it and how we’re doing it.

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“We’re also trying to take a lot of direct engagement. We’ve written and responded individually to every objection put to us.

“What this process has allowed us to do is to understand what most of the concerns are.

“We recognise there’s a hard core who, no matter what we say, we could never placate.

“These are the people who would actually want nothing disturbing their peace.

“But across the Island, people are very much in favour. There’s even a Diamond Races Supporters’ Group on Facebook.

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“We recognise we’ve got to focus on safety — and sustainability.

“What we don’t want to be is a poor neighbour and a poor example of what we’re trying to make it — a world class event.”

Mr Sandford has also spoken further with the Isle of Wight MP.

“A key thing is to give a boost to the local economy — to create jobs and provide a £12.5m cash injection to the Island during these Covid times. Bob understands and recognises that.

Isle of Wight County Press:

“We also want to put the Island on a global stage. We’re planning to televise the event, giving 80-90 countries a view of the Island.

“We’re on the doorstep of one of the richest pieces of real estate in the world — London and the South East of England.

“We’re hoping to announce a date soon, but we have lots of challenges to overcome first.”