£275,000 rescue package secures North West 200 future

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A £275,000 local authority rescue package has secured the North West 200’s future for at leaast another year.

A meeting of the Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council on Monday evening agreed to increase the value of its total contribution in cash and kind by £96,000.

It followed a determined campaign by the long-serving Mervyn Whyte and his helpers to prevent the event collapsing through lack of funds and shortage of personnel.

“We are indebted to the Council for their financial backing and this increase in support which will be used for course set-up. I think it leaves the North West 200 on a good footing to move forward so it’s full steam ahead for 2023,” said Whyte.

”It’s what we’ve been looking for as things have changed in recent years and we’ve lost few good people.”

The council was not able to help provide an event manager, a replacement for retiring course manager John Adams, and the backing came with a request for the race organisers, the Coleraine and District Motor Club, to provide a detailed business model and succession plan ensuring the event would become self-sustaining within five years.

An event which, earlier this year attracted, it was estimated, some 195,000 spectators making it the biggest in Ireland and also generated some £16million for the Northern Ireland economy, did not attract any backing from the NI Tourist Board when a proposal was put forward to support both the North West and a revived Ulster Grand Prix. Their reason that they were limited in funds in difficult economic times was described as ‘disgraceful’ by MP Ian Paisley.