Animals at risk due to Olympics road closure, says wildlife charity founder
The lives of up to 100 wild animals will be put at risk if a wildlife centre’s road is blocked during the Olympics, its founder has claimed.
On the weekend of the Olympic cycle road races on July 28 and 29 Randalls Road in Leatherhead, home to Wildlife Aid Foundation, will be closed to traffic.
Despite several meetings with Surrey County Council’s(SCC) Olympics coordinators and despite promises of help, no contingency plan has been put forward to allow access to the centre according to its frustrated founder, Simon Cowell.
He warned that the 45-55 sick or injured animals it treats a day would be under threat unless access arrangements are worked out in the next few weeks.
Mr Cowell said he contacted the council about the issue last year in the run-up to the Surrey cycle classic race - a precursor of the Olympic race.
He said in that case, SCC gave the centre a vehicle pass, but it still faced three-hour delays and two animals died.
He said: "We have had constant assurances that every effort would be made to enable WAF to maintain its service as normal over the weekend, but despite SCC’s promise last month of immediate action absolutely nothing has happened.
"I am furious with SCC for stringing us along.
"A large number of animals will absolutely be in danger of dying unless there is some sort of negotiation.
"We cannot shut the centre because our volunteers need to get into the building to feed the animals already in our care and they will probably have to come in early, at 6am, during that weekend.
"But everything is uncertain as to how paramedic teams will respond to emergencies and how injured animals will be brought in."
But the SCC spokesman said it was "surprised" at WAF’s comments.
He said: "It’s a complex task but we’re finalising plans that will allow the volunteers to get to the animal hospital via a neighbouring business.
"We also have detailed plans in place to enable the charity’s ambulances to access the race route in the event of an emergency.
"Hosting the Olympic events is a big job and we’re helping to provide access for many organisations that care for the vulnerable."