The Lions TT Motorcycle Festival in northern NSW has been called off for 2016, just one day after the Sunshine Coast International TT was also axed.
The two events are not related, except they both tried to cash in on the Isle of Man TT.
An email was despatched this afternoon to founding members of the Lions TT, saying the 2016 event would not go ahead. It blames the “NSW Regional Police Department” for not allowing “a road closure / structure to allow the event to proceed this year”.
Calls, emails and messages to the organisers have not been returned and it was too late to contact the local council, although the last we heard from the council was that they had also not heard from the organisers.
The Lions TT Facebook page does not have any new entries since an anti-police video was posted on June 7. Certainly no word of the event being cancelled.
The Lions TT began in 2014 as a non-timed, closed-road ride over the Lions Rd between Kyogle in north NSW and Rathdowney in southern Queensland, together with a motorcycle festival in Kyogle and untimed drag races on the Casino airstrip.
Even before the event started, police on both sides of the border refused to close the road which ran right through the middle of a public camping ground on a long weekend.
The organisers blamed police, but police said they received the application too late and they would not have approved it, anyway. Council stepped in and closed the road, but the rides were cancelled early Sunday after several crashes.
The event returned in 2015, but the ride over the Lions Rd was dropped and the side-by-side Casino drag event cancelled at the 11th hour. Organisers blamed “Government Legislative requirements, constraints, and costs”, but a Richmond Valley Council spokeswoman says the organisers failed to submit the required documentation for use of the airport.
With that background of blame and disorganisation in mind, we present the full text of the Lions TT Committee’s email for you to judge what has happened:
It is with regret from the LTT Board we announce that the 2016 Lions TT will not go ahead.
Despite many months of painstaking effort we have not been able to secure the support of the NSW Regional Police Department to enable a road closure / structure to allow the event to proceed this year.
Not withstanding that similar events are held in other locations around Australia each year & are legislated by Authorities within those regions.
In November 2015 we held meetings with key stakeholders wherein an exciting plan was hatched for a road hill climb event through the forestry on Lions Road. With the support of the local council and meeting with the Kyogle Police, we forged ahead with an application to the NSW Policing Authorities for a semi road closure allowing for minimal disruption to other road users whilst also permitting our Members the safe usage of the road.
Despite repeated follow ups and fulfilment of all supporting documentation, our application was denied six months later in May 2016, leaving little less than 5 months until the event was to be held. Since May the board has met several times in an attempt to devise an alternative event, however such short time frames have left it impractical to facilitate and organise anything that our Founding Members & Guests have come to expect of their LTT.
Having met with Members and listened to their valued feedback, it is clear a road closure event & proceeding festival is what Members & Guests look forward to. Yes a few cold drinks after a days ride is always welcomed but the HEART of your LTT IS what you have told us – a road closure event.
While we were faced with the same issue in 2015 it was our goal to provide our dedicated Founding Members & Guests with an event they could identify with….hence LTT Festival in Kyogle Showgrounds was created. Due to no feature LTT road event, & wet weather over that week end, numbers were dramatically down impacting on the required financial funding for 2016.
The road closure factor is highlighted by way of registered numbers prior to the event in 2014 with over 300 Members & Guests financially registered for the ride whereas in 2015, when the road was not closed, we had only 15 register. This clearly speaks for itself.
The huge success of the Lions TT in 2014 resulted in us being able to financially provide a $5,000 donation to the Kyogle Council for the upkeep of the Historic Lions Road and based on Kyogle Tourism survey we also injected $250,000 + into the local community. Without a road closure event Lions TT 2015 resulted in a substantial loss. Rather than asking Members or organisations for contributions to cover these losses the board members dug deep into their own resources to make up the $20,000 + difference. We hope Members can appreciate that such losses for a non profit organisation cannot be sustained nor can the board continually fund from our own pockets to keep the dream alive.
So where to now ?
For Lions TT 2017 we are aiming again to have a road closure event and hope we can secure this closure – in or within – close proximity to Kyogle. However, if we are not able to secure a road closure, we will be forced to consider alternative destinations. Thus far we have managed to identify a few new locations that are potentially suitable and have facilitated similar type events in the past.
It is to this end that we will strive to maintain your LTT within the Kyogle region, from where it was born, and continue to generate the much needed financial funding for the region & assist the Council with the maintenance of the Historic Lions Road.
We would like to tip our hat and extend a massive “Thank You” to all Members for your continued support to keep the dream alive.
We would also like to acknowledge the support and encouragement received from Kyogle Council, Kyogle Chamber of Commerce, Kyogle Tourism, Kyogle Police Station, Kyogle Rugby Club, and the Lions TT committee in Kyogle.
Stay tuned for an announcement of a Lions TT Founding Members & Guests overnight ride in October. A private location has been selected to provide accommodation, food and refreshment.
This ride & overnight stay will facilitate the platform for open discussions & interaction between all Members, Guests, & the LTT Board with the vision of securing the future of what is now part of the Australian MotorSport Calendar…….your Lions TT.
Our commitment and passion to pursue the dream remains unaltered.
The email is signed by “The LTT Team”.