THIS year's annual Tavy 7 race could be cancelled for the first time in more than 10 years, due to ongoing disagreements with land-owners about the use of Whitchurch Down on Remembrance Sunday.

The race, run by Tavistock Athletic Club, has been held on the Down on Remembrance Sunday for many years and attracts hundreds of athletes from across the South West. But following complaints last year about the tannoy announcements cutting into the church service and traditional minute's silence in Whitchurch, the town council, which owns the land, decided to withdraw permission for the use of Whitchurch Down on that date.

At a recent full council meeting, permission was granted to the athletic club to use Whitchurch Down on November 28 instead, but with restrictions on parking so as not to damage the moor.

Cllr John Sellis said at the meeting: 'If they use the Down that late in the year, I'm concerned about the damage that may be caused to the ground from parking. It may end up with tyre marks left there all year.'

Chairman of Tavistock Athletic Club Allan Herdman said he was reluctant to hold the event on that date because of clashing with other well-established races going on at that time.

The club has been negotiating with Plasterdown landowners to stage the event there instead, but Mr Herdman feels they will be unable to organise the race in such a small amount of time.

He said: 'The council's decision not to allow us to use their land on November 14 was disappointing although not unexpected. They have given us permission to use their land on November 28, an alternative date which the club has been considering, but they have placed a caveat on that, in that they want us to restrict or even ban any parking on the moor for fear of damage.

'This places such a restriction that we could not proceed on that basis, as our main reason for using their land is to cater for the parking of participants. We have staged the Tavy 7 on Remembrance Sunday and used this site for more than 10 years now with the full blessing of the town council.

'Last year they gave us further support by sponsoring the Fun Run which forms an integral part of the Tavy 7 event. So it is somewhat disappointing that they have taken such a line with what is one of Tavistock's finest and most popular events.

'As a result, we have been actively pursuing an alternative venue to start and finish the race.

'We are still in discussions with a number of landowners and other interested parties — there is now a real possibility that the race could shift to Plasterdown which would provide a much better venue.

'However, given the delay which has taken place we are now considering whether we should cancel the event this year and make plans for 2011 — on a new date and at a new venue.'

Mr Herdman will be recommending to the club committee to cancel the event for this year and hold a 'bigger and better' event next year. The decision is due to be made by the end of this week.