South Scotland

Safety review group issues final report after Jim Clark rally deaths

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Media captionThree people died at the Jim Clark Rally in May 2014

Volunteer marshals should undergo mandatory training before working at motor-sport rallies, according to a report.

A marshal licensing scheme was one of a series of recommendations made by a nationwide review of the sport.

It followed the deaths of three spectators at the Jim Clark Rally in the Borders last May.

The final report also recommends that ground rules are drawn up for helping cars back on the road.

Iain Provan, 64, Elizabeth Allan, 63, and Len Stern, 71, died on a stage of the rally near Coldstream.

A spectator was also killed at the Snowman Rally in the Highlands in 2013. Joy Robson, 50, of Skye died and an eight-year-old boy was injured.

Image copyright Other
Image caption Elizabeth Allan died along with John Leonard Stern and Iain John Provan.

The safety review group was set up by the Scottish government and it included motor sports representatives, Police Scotland, the Health and Safety Executive, and former world rally champion Robert Reid.

Sir Jackie Stewart, who won the Formula One world drivers championship three times during his career, was an advisor to the group. Their key recommendations include:

  • Tighter control over volunteer marshals including the introduction of a mandatory marshal licensing scheme, requiring marshals to obtain a licence following mandatory training and experience.
  • Input from Police Scotland including, where appropriate, police supporting implementation of the safety plan, a liaison officer attending rallies and training support at a national level.
  • Improving safety of the media through better management of press attendance at rallies, including a press accreditation scheme.
  • Ground rules drawn up for spectators, marshals and competitors on assisting cars back onto the road - a common practice at rallies.
  • Improved communication with spectators and the recommended adoption of international standards for identifying low, medium and high risk spectator areas.
  • Stricter control of marshalling numbers - a requirement for marshal numbers to be published in the safety plan and adhered to for each rally stage.

The group's conclusions were announced in the Scottish Parliament by Minister for Sport Jamie Hepburn.

He said: "Rallying has a long and proud history in Scotland, but the tragic events at the 2014 Jim Clark Rally and 2013's Highland Snowman event demonstrated that action had to be taken.

"There will always be an element of risk connected to motor sport, but Scotland must take the lead in ensuring that we live up to our history of world class input to the sport and have the best spectator safety controls in place.

"I believe that the review group has brought us a package of measures that will bring about a considerable improvement in spectator safety."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption A car crashed and hit spectators at a stage of the rally near Coldstream

Sir Jackie Stewart said: "I am very proud to have been part of an excellent process that was driven by the Scottish government.

"I believe that what has been achieved in Scotland will be an example that will be taken up on a global basis by the sport of rallying including the world governing body the FIA and UK governing body MSA.

"I believe it is a great step forward in making the sport safer than ever."

Jacques Berger, head of the safety department at the FIA, the governing body for world motor sports, also welcomed the recommendations.

He said: "The Motor Sport safety review team's research, in conjunction with the Motor Sports Association and many of the sport's stakeholders, has been extensive and I am sure the implementation of their recommendations will further increase safety on multi-venue stage rallies, not only in Scotland but the UK as a whole."

In November Scottish Borders Council announced that the 2015 rally had been cancelled, following discussion with Police Scotland and other groups.

A spokesman for the council said the review has not affected their decision on the future of the rally.

"Until the ongoing Police Scotland and Health and Safety Executive investigations into the tragic deaths at last year's event are complete we are unable to commence planning, along with the rally organisers and Police Scotland, for a closed roads event this year," he added.

"The council supports the event's return to closed public roads as soon as possible, following the conclusion of all ongoing investigations and the implementation of all necessary safety measures and recommendations published today."

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