Brands Hatch replies
It has always been our practice at Brands Hatch to take most seriously the criticisms and suggestions of our patrons and to effect remedial action where it is financially or otherwise practicable.
Mr. Newell's letter in your September issue, however, is particularly misleading and requires correction, especially as he expresses satisfaction with his visit to the Grand Prix at the same circuit in 1972 and suggests that it is now no longer able to provide pedestrian viewing space in safe conditions.
From a purely factual point of view, the size of the crowd in 1976 was no more than 10% above that for 1972, and vast areas of excellent spectator viewing space remained sparsely occupied. It is of course undeniable that certain areas of any race track are more popular than others and that an unreasonable number of spectators will jostle there for vantage points; to try to control such situations with police or security guards could well lead to unpleasant behaviour and scuffles, to the detriment of the majority. We preferred therefore, on the occasion of the recent Grand Prix, to use our public: address system throughout the day to point out to spectators the areas in which there remained more than adequate viewing room.
The toilet accommodation at Brands Hatch is rather more, and indeed more modern, than at other "circuits, but, again, if spectators insist on congregating heavily to their own disadvantage within a confined area, it is a matter of sheer logistics that they will over-tax the available toilet accommodation ; by moving to other excellent vantage points around the circuit, also served by modern toilets, they can ease the situation considerably. In fairness, the current drought situation did affect the operation of some of our toilets on Grand Prix day as water pressure was below standard.
The function of uniformed security men is purely to check the validity of tickets and to protect grandstand patrons from having their seats occupied by unauthorised persons. It is not part of Brands Hatch policy to involve t hem in crowd or riot control and so far as we are concerned they did not desert their posts in the Manner suggested.
So far as litter is concerned, I can assure Mr. Newell that the spectator areas are cleared immediately after each meeting, and many thousands of pounds are spent on this function each year; quite obviously however there is a limit to what dan be done between practice and race days.
Your correspondent, Mr. Bailey, who claimed to have written to us but did not in fact do so until after his letter had appeared in print, raises the subject of our having provided only a limited race programme for a £5 admission charge. The charge itself was entirely realistic in relation to £258,000 outlay on the day, £300,000 in new construction, not to mention normal overheads, and the number of supporting races to the Grand Prix was the maximum now agreed by the Formula One Constructors Association; had it been possible within the rules of the game to have run more races we should certainly have done so. Finally on the subject of camping facilities (for which we made no charge whatsoever) we must confess that we were taken by surprise by the vast increase in the number of spectators bringing their own tents and caravans to such effect that the hired mobile toilets and water tankers which we were pleased to provide proved inadequate in numbers. The position was further complicated by the fact that many campers ignored notices defining the area allocated and pitched their tents in such a way as to prevent municipal sewage emptying vehicles from doing their job (although this was remedied later). Some campers even disregarded notices to the extent of occupying the airstrip and were even annoyed at being asked to move.
Unfortunately we are currently not permitted to construct permanent camping facilities, but will certainly take the point and provide more extensive toilet and water units together with attendants in the future.
Brands Hatch Circuit Ltd. ANGELA WEBB (Director)