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The long-running street sprints was under threat of not happening this year. Below: An unhappy Brent McLaren in front of Wastebusters on McNally Street.

Ashburton District councillors have agreed to the temporary closure of roads at the Riverside Industrial Estate for next week’s iconic Ashburton Car Club street sprints event, despite an impassioned plea from a business owner who says he will once again lose out financially.

Wastebusters owner Brent McLaren objected to the notified closure, which includes McNally Street where his business is located, and spoke at council last week.
He told councillors he would lose between $2500 and $3000 from a weekend of lost trade.
Autumn was his busiest time for green waste and recycling and he couldn’t afford to close.

“A lot of small businesses have been struggling because of covid and I’m one of them.
‘‘I’m not anti car-racing, but unlike other businesses in the industrial estate I am open seven days a week year round,’’ he said.

Mr McLaren said he wanted the street sprints re-routed to allow customers access to his premises.

He struggled with the fact council could close roads and his major competition, the nearby council-run Ashburton Resource Recovery Park, would still have access for its customers.

Mr McLaren said he took over Wastebusters in 2018 and had closed during the street sprints last year.

In a previous year he had gained alternative access through an agreement with Rainer Irrigation but that option had come at a cost and was not now practical because he had started a recycled baleage wrap initiative and needed to store a lot of product and baled wrap on site.
Ashburton Car Club member Wayne Muckle told councillors the car club was sympathetic to Mr McLaren’s situation but believed it had done all that could be done to resolve the issue.

“We’ve approached Rainer for alternative access and they’ve agreed to it.
“We don’t want to re-route the racing course, or shorten the McNally Street section because that would open up a can worms.’’

Mr Muckle said the street sprints had been held since 1989 and the same iconic route, used since 1990, presented a challenge drivers relished.

“We always approach business owners in the industrial estate before we ask council for a road closure. “We’ve always had support before and worked through the few issues that have arisen.’’

He said the Ashburton street sprints were a blueprint for all other street sprints in New Zealand and were held in high regard by Motorsport NZ.

The weekend event brought an estimated $60,000 to $70,000 into the local economy.

In 2021 the sprints had cost more than $30,000 to operate and $25,000 of that had gone back into the to community groups, he said.

Ashburton councillors were sympathetic with Mr McLaren’s position, but agreed the right processes had been followed and a possible alternative option had been provided by the car club to Mr McLaren.

The road closures in the industrial estate will run from 7.30pm on May 6 until 8pm on May 8.

The affected roads are Smallbone Drive and Robinson, Watson, McNally and Range streets.

-By Mick Jensen