The gov has this morning launched its new TT consultation, as it seeks to convince people that its plans for TT23 are the right thing for the event and the island.
Its previous consultation, back in 2021, saw just 37 responses, of which just five were supportive of the plans. The new one will run until August 12 and can be found here.
Under the proposed schedule, there would be a 10 race programme, including a controversial idea to race on Mad Sunday and to move Senior Race Day to a Saturday.
In a statement outlining the new consultation, the gov admits it had a ‘limited number of responses to the original public consultation in 2021’, while failing to state that few people who did respond actually supported its plans.
Ahead of the June 2021 public consultation and the creation of the proposed 2023 race schedule, the DfE says it carried out ‘extensive online consumer research in Q4 2019 as well as specific research, in February 2021, into the fans’ experience of travel and accommodation’. This was followed up with more in-depth TT stakeholder focus groups that were held in May.
The research revealed that the existing TT schedule, the island’s travel capacity, accommodation infrastructure, costs factored against current economic climate, and the changing habits of customers are no longer compatible and no longer meet the needs of the event’s customers (some people call these customers “fans”).
Rob Callister MHK, who has responsibility for Tourism and Motorsport, has said: ‘The proposed race schedule for TT 2023 has been developed to complement the island’s travel and infrastructure capacity and capability. An extensive amount of essential research and stakeholder feedback was used to define the 2023 race schedule.
‘The new schedule will give more visiting race fans the opportunity to come to the Isle of Man to experience the TT Races, lifting the shoulder periods of the historic peak by providing visitors with attractive racing blocks in two day chunks. This will in turn benefit the local economy, particularly our hospitality industry as well as the island’s retailers, which is one of the main reasons that the department promotes the racing.
‘We also believe that the proposed 2023 race schedule will address a number of historic issues with the current schedule. As the TT continues with the change to shorter race days, which was implemented in 2022, the demands placed on volunteers, officials, including marshals, teams, and competitors should be further reduced on any given day.’
The announcement continues by says that the DfE intends to go ahead with its proposed schedule and then ‘actively seek feedback and review the performance of the 2023 schedule post event before determining future schedules’.
The gov says that a full list of benefits can be found listed in Consultation documents on the Government Portal.
Since the gov is only outlining the benefits of the extra milking for its most famous cash cow, we thought it appropriate to reflect on why respondents to the original consultation were against the plans.
That consultation’s report was only published after an FoI by Gef.
The first three respondents, all marshals from the UK, highlighted the issue that an increased race schedule could lead to difficulties in securing enough marshals willing to cover every race.
One respondent said that he and his wife, who are both retired, travel to the island for about three weeks around TT and the MGP most years and marshal during every session, but that they also enjoy events such as Peel Day and Ramsey Sprint.
He said: ‘If the weather/incidents conspired and the day really was a 9am to 9.30pm… followed by another similar day? 2 x12 plus hours at post…. as a volunteer. We would have to be incredibly well organised to ensure we had sufficient food and drink in advance of both shifts and would have little time to rest between the days.
‘The whole change feels to be a big push toward a TV audience. You may well regret that if the event cannot even start due to a lack of marshals on the ground.’
The second marshal said that the increased schedule could negatively affect businesses ‘like TT Teas at Bride or the businesses in Castletown/Peel/Port Erin’; he also raised his concern that there wouldn’t be enough marshals for each race.
He added: ‘Closing the circuit every day will be more of a burden on locals going about their business and may undermine goodwill towards the event from those who are no longer able to benefit from the economic benefits of the TT.’
The third marshal said she had concerns over the weather on Senior Race Day as if it rained on the Saturday then this could mean the big race simply wouldn’t be held. She also said she ‘would not be prepared to marshal the extra days’.
A Ramsey contributor went even further than wanting to prevent an increase in racing, they actually wanted to see it cut and think that ‘the TT has to end eventually’. They added: ‘TT should actually be reduced not more! Please reconsider these plans. I still enjoy TT as many do but in reduced form as it slowly dies a natural death.’
One Douglas resident said the new schedule risked ‘three days where there might not be a break in the torrent of anachronistic pointlessness’. They added that ‘three contingency days in 14 is foolish’, that the island doesn’t have the infrastructure to support the expanded event, particularly due to the state of the TT access road and also repeated earlier concerns about marshals.
Other worries include a lack of rest time for riders (it was noted during this year’s races that the riders’ physio team said they were busier than ever) the environmental impact of additional races and the lack of a TT Zero race, as well as a lack of faith in the Manx weather.