Public safety concerns lead to racecourse changes

A stretch of the public footpath along Devil’s Dyke near the July Course in Newmarket is to be diverted during summer concerts for safety reasons following discussions between Cambridgeshire County Council and the racecourse.

In recent years increasing numbers of people have taken to the Dyke to listen to the music after racing finishes.

The footpath crosses land belonging to The Jockey Club and, while the right of way is used responsibly by members of the public almost all the time, it has become a potential hazard during late Friday evening concerts.  There are concerns that someone could be injured in a fall.

The last time there was a complete advance sell-out concert at Newmarket Racecourses was in 2013 when Jessie J was performing.  On that occasion, it is conservatively estimated that about 800 people were on Devil’s Dyke.  This year, the concerts by Kylie on Friday, 19th June and Kaiser Chiefs on Friday, 31st July are already sell-outs.

On the dates of the seven Newmarket Nights concerts this summer, the public footpath on top of Devil’s Dyke will be re-routed to the Rowley Mile side in order that people are not on the earthwork.  The area will be monitored by stewards.

Malcolm Taylor, Chairman of the Safety Advisory Group, of Cambridgeshire County Council, said:

“Concerns have been expressed for the safety of members of the public who have been on Devil’s Dyke during concerts on the July Course and the multi-agency Safety Advisory Group has been working with the racecourse to resolve the issue.  It is agreed that the most sensible course of action is for the footpath on the Dyke to be diverted during this summer’s concerts.”

Amy Starkey, Director of Jockey Club Racecourses East Region, said:

“Some years ago, it was a minor issue that a small number of people were on Devil’s Dyke during concerts.  However, it is increasingly becoming a potentially significant one.

“In places the Dyke is up to 100ft high and it is dark when concerts begin.  That combination becomes a hazard, especially when people are drinking and dancing, and someone may fall and injure themselves or others.

“We are concerned, especially because the Kylie and Kaiser Chiefs concerts sold out so quickly, that there could be a considerable number of people trying to access Devil’s Dyke, so we are taking action now.”

The footpath will be diverted during the seven Newmarket Nights: Kylie (19th June); Madness (26th June); Status Quo (17th July); Boyzone (24th July); Kaiser Chiefs (31th July); Sir Tom Jones (7th August); and Spandau Ballet (14th August).  Tickets remain on sale for five of the seven concerts.

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