“What do we want?
When do we want it?
Chanted protestors outside Dunkeswell kart circuit on 30 July.
Nigel Mansell, who recently took control of the West Country track, wants to build workshops, offices and a restaurant, all under one roof – for the corporate karting he’s hoping to attract.
He also aims for the new two-storey structure to house his Formula BMW team.
But locals unhappy with his plans, demonstrated outside the circuit brandishing placards and chanting to let him know exactly what they think.
“The track’s used occasionally, but this is going to be 5, 6, 7 days a week. It’s going to ruin the environment. Nigel Mansell’s bulldozing over everyone just because he’s got money,” said local resident Peter Yates.
Noise and increased traffic seem to be the main bones of contention.
Matthew Hayes from neighbouring Hemyock – “We don’t want Mansell building a big restaurant and causing noise 7 days a week as opposed to only 9 meetings a year. He’s only doing this for financial considerations. Really the Government should be giving it some attention.”
Scuffles almost broke out when 3 local pro-Mansell protestors turned up with banners – police had to keep the two sides separated.
“I don’t think people have the facts” Ross Star, who has lived in Dunkeswell for 19 years, told us “How many people here today are going to apply for jobs when it’s all going? This is going to bring money into the community and put Dunkeswell on the map.”
Speaking to the protestors, many seemed to be caught up in the occasion without really knowing what they were protesting about, none I talked to had actually read the former World Champion’s planning application and few knew the history of the circuit…
Karting: Why are you protesting here today?
Local woman: Because I don’t want a race track here and more noise
Karting: But the kart circuit has been here for 40 years…
Local woman: Has it?
Others have relied on horror stories told to them by their friends and neighbours, or written on the protest website www.cancelmansell.com.
“He wants a race track for F3 from 9 in the morning till 9 at night … so I’ve been told.”
After 30 minutes of chanting, banner waving and having their pictures taken by the local press, the group and their loud hailers marched back to the village – and Karting caught up with Nigel Mansell’s spokesman Brian Holmes, who’d been watching from a discreet distance with a wry smile on his face.
“I think it’s rather sad that all these people that have turned up today have been so misled by the people organising the event, because all the things they are objecting to, we aren’t going to do. I would really prefer that they actually came and took the trouble to come and talk to us and see what we are actually doing here … they have been completely misled into thinking something is happening here and it isn’t.”
Brian says they’ve spent a “large amount” of money on surveys to confirm transport and environmental concerns are groundless – and there are absolutely no plans at all to use Dunkeswell for anything but karting. He’s no idea where the claim has come from the venue’s going to be used for F3 – it’s certainly not in their planning application.
“All we’ve asked to do it to put a building up – it’s as simple as that! It will mitigate the noise and be a venue for corporate karting. I think it will add quite a lot to the venue and the area as it will bring employment and social benefits through us training youngsters. I think this whole area will find that what we are trying to do here is extremely beneficial.”
Ironically, as they happily sang “Mansell, Mansell don’t you know…We don’t want you – off you go!” the Cancel Mansellers appeared to be oblivious to the low-flying light aircraft continually buzzing overhead…