Report recommends more crowd safety at motorsports

Spectators were killed at the Jim Clark rally. Picture: JP
Spectators were killed at the Jim Clark rally. Picture: JP
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RECOMMENDATIONS to improve the safety of spectators at motorsports events have been issued by an expert group set up in the wake of a series of fatal accidents.

Three people were killed and several were injured at the Jim Clark Rally near Coldstream in the Scottish Borders in May.

The accident followed the death of a woman at the Highland Car Club Snowman Rally in Glenurquhart Forest in February last year.

Following the deaths at the Jim Clark Rally Kenny MacAskill MSP, ordered a safety review to look at how safety could be improved after the most recent tragedy.

The group’s initial proposals have been published in time for the Isle of Mull rally being held this weekend, with a final report expected by the end of the year.

• Tributes to victims of Jim Clark Rally crash

The first recommendations include appointing an independent safety delegate for each rally to be responsible for the safety of staff, volunteers and spectators, as well as a spectator safety officer and a safety car for multi-venue stage rallies.

Improvements should be made to safety messages given to the public and to the training of rally marshals while media attending events should be better protected, the group said.

Organisers of the Mull Rally are said to have implemented most of the recommendations.

Those killed at the Jim Clark Rally were Iain Provan, 64, and his partner Elizabeth Allan, 63, both from Barrhead near Glasgow and Len Stern, 71, from Bearden, also near Glasgow. Earlier in the day, at a separate incident at the same rally, spectators had been injured.

In February last year 50-year-old Joy Robson, from the Isle of Skye was killed while watching the Highland Car Club Snowman Rally.

Rally deaths

Shona Robison, MSP, Sport Secretary, said: “The tragic events at the Jim Clark rally, and at the Highland Snowman rally in 2013 where a spectator was also killed, brought the safety of spectators at motorsport events into the spotlight.

“Safety is absolutely integral to staging successful and enjoyable sporting events, and all partners need to move forward together to keep people safe.

“Motorsport can never be completely safe. However, these initial findings set out clear improvements that can help to prevent tragic accidents.

“The Scottish Government sees these changes as essential to allow rallies to continue to take place safely in Scotland.”

Jim Hume, Lib Dem MSP, for South of Scotland, welcoming the recommendations, said: “People across the Borders and beyond were shocked at the tragic events of this year’s Jim Clark Rally, an event which is regarded with great affection as a social staple for local communities and which brings in huge crowds from across Scotland.

“I’m pleased that the interim report acknowledges these points.

“It’s vitally important that communities in the Borders and its visitors are able to enjoy the Jim Clark Rally safely. The tragic events of this year must never happen again.”

David Evans, rally editor at Autosport Magazine, described the Scottish Government’s recommendations as “ground-breaking”

“It’s hugely encouraging to see that the Scottish Government has really got these recommendations out so quickly. These situations can drag on for a very long time. There was obviously a need to get things done with Mull coming up.

“At World Championship level most of these recommendations are implemented, I believe. But to do this at this level is kind of ground-breaking.

“It’s made us look at our sport in a different way. We can be too close to it so it is good for us to have someone come from outside and say ‘Why do you do this?’ ‘Why do you do that?’

Mr Evans added:” It’s also impressive that the sort of people who have been involved in this, such as Iain Campbell who is in charge of the Mull rally and Robert Reid, who was co-driver in the World Rally Championships in 2001, have so much experience.