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"I can't get litter bins" says Martyn Levitt...

Welwyn Garden City councillor Martyn Levitt has criticised Welwyn Hatfield Council’s spending £50,000 to host the second-last stage of The Women’s Tour on May 10.

He told Ewan Foskett of Welwyn Hatfield Times “When I have been a councillor for Haldens [Welwyn Garden City] I have wanted to get litter bins and I can’t get litter bins, I’m told we don’t have money.

“But we have money to fritter away on this.”

He said that he did not think the event was “giving good value for people who are paying council tax”.

Councillor Levitt,a member of the majority Tory group on the council, is stepping down at May’s election. Described as a keen cyclist, he said he did not think hosting the finish of the race would help promote sport in the area.

“The Tour of Britain had Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish, household names,” he said.

“It got very little television coverage, what hope is there [the women’s tour] will raise £50,000?

“[Council leader] John Dean has said they will get sponsorship, I don’t think they will, if they thought they would it would be referred to in the budget.”

The Women’s Tour starts in Oundle on Wednesday May 7, and finishes in Bury St Edmunds on Sunday May 11. Welwyn Garden City hosts the finish of stage four, which starts in Cheshunt.

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

33 comments

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SteppenHerring [330 posts] 2 years ago
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Ah. Bin obsession, anti-cyclist, hates women. This man is Richard Littlejohn.

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Goldfever4 [226 posts] 2 years ago
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Caveman.

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cidermart [492 posts] 2 years ago
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Ah there's nothing like being open minded is there. Sorry but what a dick.

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gb901 [154 posts] 2 years ago
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He has a point though; whos really bothered about women's cycling and a relatively minor race at that?

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RedfishUK [140 posts] 2 years ago
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“It got very little television coverage, what hope is there [the women’s tour] will raise £50,000?

Not sure that is true, will the local community not make the money back with people associated with the tour and spectators spending money in shops, cafes.. even parking in council run car parks

put it in context, it's only two years worth of "expenses" a councillor can claim.(actually that figure is based on my local authority, but you get the drift!)

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mooleur [537 posts] 2 years ago
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gb901 wrote:

He has a point though; whos really bothered about women's cycling and a relatively minor race at that?

My nerdy sarcasm barrier can't tell if this is a joke or not :*(

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jollygoodvelo [1540 posts] 2 years ago
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A councillor for Welwyn Garden City - home to a female double gold medallist at London 2012 - can't see the value in having a women's bike race in the town?

Look, I can understand him querying whether one thing or another is a good use of funds. And to be honest - why are there no bins? But it's things like this that make me despair about this country. In France, towns compete to be be where the TdF stages start from, let alone finish...

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northstar [1108 posts] 2 years ago
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This is not news, i'd be "impressed" if you could find a councillor who does like cycling...

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ped [241 posts] 2 years ago
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northstar wrote:

This is not news, i'd be "impressed" if you could find a councillor who does like cycling...

Actually not that hard. Google is your friend  1

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notfastenough [3716 posts] 2 years ago
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It's a saturday as well, that's got to be worth travelling to for many people? I might have to see if I can talk my missus into it. Adventures with twin 5-month-olds!

We surely wouldn't be the only ones. Hotel + meals/drinks + parking, in addition to the obligatory look round the shops etc (well I won't get the family down there JUST for a bike race!) = £££

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mtm_01 [196 posts] 2 years ago
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Surely this is massive shortsightedness!
Everyone knows that £50k can be made back by people spending more money in the town than usual or by filling up the hotels. It's £50k spent by the council in order to spread the wealth, other alternatives include mailing out £100 to all local businesses.

Love how everyone denouncing cycling is a 'keen cyclist', still not at cringy as the Emma Way declaration though!

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Ghostie [93 posts] 2 years ago
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I read this article on its original source last week and groaned. Even if nobody even bothered turning up to watch it from outside, WGC residents will notice it. The roads will be shut; it's on during a Saturday so they can step out of the Howard Centre to hang around and watch it. The streets are wide and flat, making it an exciting venue for any stage of a cycling race. No Wiggo or Cavendish? But the foremost female cyclist in the world has already confirmed her participation. Two Olympic gold medalists, including one that used to ride for the town's resident cycling club, several Olympic silver medalists. You don't get that with the Tour of Britain.

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oozaveared [947 posts] 2 years ago
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Well I don't see any arguments that he is wrong. Is £50k to sponsor a women's cycle race a good deal for the Welwyn Ratepayer?

That is a technical question about investment and return in local authority sports sponsorship.

It may also include whether bringing x number of cycling enthusiasts into Welwyn to watch the cycle race adds to the local economy or whether this is outweighed by those regulars that decide if there are road closures they'll shop somewhere else instead that week.

I'm all in avour of cycle racing. I am all in favour of councils and governments facilitating sport including cycle racing particularly for amateurs. For £50k I expect they could have an amateur race series in the town centre on weekday evenings. I am all in favour of councils working out the economic case and doing a deal that benefits their ratepayers.

I am not generally in favour of councils spending ratepayers money so that commercial organisations can make a profit at the ratepayers expense.

So, back to the question. Will it make Welwyn money or not?

Is he wrong?

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Goldfever4 [226 posts] 2 years ago
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I get his point that if there isn't enough money for bins then spending a nice round number on a sporting event is a political kick in the teeth.

But I'll be travelling to Welwyn for the first time and will inevitably spend some money at some local places. I can't be the only one, so constituents will benefit in some ways from the event.

I don't see bins earning a return on investment any time soon.

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don simon [790 posts] 2 years ago
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If there are no bins, where am I going to dispose of the wrappers of my locally bought fish & chips when I come down to Welwyn?
This is a complete disaster for everyone involved...

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lerrup [22 posts] 2 years ago
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you'd have thought any canny councilor would have milked Welwyn's connections with the Trott sisters and tried to have had them name checked as well to promote cycling in the place.

How much does the council pay towards the up keep of the velodrome there, anyone know?

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seanboy [23 posts] 2 years ago
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he is dead right,nobody is interested in watching women cycling in this country,i know that sounds harsh,but that is just a fact!

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zanf [869 posts] 2 years ago
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Gizmo_ wrote:

A councillor for Welwyn Garden City - home to a female double gold medallist at London 2012 - can't see the value in having a women's bike race in the town?

If you're referring to the Trott sisters, they were born in Harlow and live in Cheshunt.

Laura had her first taste of cycling at the velodrome in WGC but never lived there.

seanboy wrote:

he is dead right,nobody is interested in watching women cycling in this country,i know that sounds harsh,but that is just a fact!

Come down to London Nocturn on June 4th and see how many people are interested in seeing the womens elite race (which Hannah Barnes has won for the last 3 years).

Or maybe you would be best applying the time to learning the difference between a comma and a full stop, and when they should each be applied to a sentence?

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TrekBikesUK [128 posts] 2 years ago
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Anyone not seeing the value of women's cycling, or willing to support initiatives that encourage more women to take up the sport of cycling, is not part of the solution.

It is sad that people are actually suggesting that 'no one' is interested in women's racing.

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mattsccm [341 posts] 2 years ago
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People go on about the money eared but how much of that 50k will go back to the council. Until that can be 100% proved before the event there has to be some doubt. Has to be.
Of course you cannot guarantee this. Most definitely needs a vote!

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allez neg [497 posts] 2 years ago
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Remembrance day parades? Xmas lights? Flowers on roundabouts and in the parks (I grew up in the FIRST garden city, so nuuurh!)

I'm sure all these things cost money, and all are non-essential. What price civic pride?

I'm sure the council easily spaff 50k each year on expenditure that not one single taxpayer feels the benefit from - the mayoral Jaguar, nice biscuits at meetings, painting the council offices, photocopying, pencils etc. I'm not saying that's wrong, just that £50k isn't a massive sum.

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allez neg [497 posts] 2 years ago
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Remembrance day parades? Xmas lights? Flowers on roundabouts and in the parks (I grew up in the FIRST garden city, so nuuurh!)

I'm sure all these things cost money, and all are non-essential. What price civic pride?

I'm sure the council easily spaff 50k each year on expenditure that not one single taxpayer feels the benefit from - the mayoral Jaguar, nice biscuits at meetings, painting the council offices, photocopying, pencils etc. I'm not saying that's wrong, just that £50k isn't a massive sum.

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monkeytrousers [117 posts] 2 years ago
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seanboy wrote:

he is dead right,nobody is interested in watching women cycling in this country,i know that sounds harsh,but that is just a fact!

I do sort of agree with this, but I'm going to take the day off to see it finish in Bedford…..I do live there though so it's hardly a major trek.

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Dizzy [68 posts] 2 years ago
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seanboy wrote:

he is dead right,nobody is interested in watching women cycling in this country,i know that sounds harsh,but that is just a fact!

Really?

It may not be as popular as the men's events, but I cans assure you there is a huge fan base out there...and it's getting bigger.
Events like this will only help improve it's reputation, make it more mainstream & attract bigger sponsors, it won't happen overnight, but it will happen...

And maybe that's what people who make comments like the one above are afraid of?

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a.jumper [846 posts] 2 years ago
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They'll make the money back easily. I'll be going for a day out to watch the women's tour and Welwyn is one of the easier places to get to.

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TrekBikesUK [128 posts] 2 years ago
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We would all do well to get more women involved in the sport. Women spend 80% of the household income, and influence the other 20%.

How many of you have ever said to a store employee that you needed to 'check with her indoors' before making a big bike-related purchase?

How many of you actually hide a bike purchase that you've made because of how much it cost, knowing that your other half would raise an objection? If both ski though, would she object to the cost of new skis or boots?

How many of you have had to justify the amount of time you spend away from home to ride your bike?

All of these things come down to the psychology of understanding, and the best way to get someone to understand something is to get them involved in it.

Many of us in the industry recognise that in order to ensure the long-term growth of the sport, we HAVE to get more women involved. The involvement of women is the involvement of the family. Kids become the next pros, both male and female.

Women also encourage more activism and advocacy work, if it means that it will make their children, and themselves, safer.

It's not rocket science. Help the sport grow by actively watching and supporting women's racing. These women are role models for both genders, not just girls, in the same way that loads of women are fans of Jens Voigt, and loads of men are fans of Tracy Moseley.

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Sim1 [57 posts] 2 years ago
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zanf wrote:
Gizmo_ wrote:

A councillor for Welwyn Garden City - home to a female double gold medallist at London 2012 - can't see the value in having a women's bike race in the town?

If you're referring to the Trott sisters, they were born in Harlow and live in Cheshunt.

Laura had her first taste of cycling at the velodrome in WGC but never lived there.

seanboy wrote:

he is dead right,nobody is interested in watching women cycling in this country,i know that sounds harsh,but that is just a fact!

Come down to London Nocturn on June 4th and see how many people are interested in seeing the womens elite race (which Hannah Barnes has won for the last 3 years).

Or maybe you would be best applying the time to learning the difference between a comma and a full stop, and when they should each be applied to a sentence?

Quite. In fact at the Nocturne the fact that Trott, King and Rowsell were racing attracted far more interest than Dowsett or any of the other guys (sorry Alex).

so seanboy, instead of making claims that you cant substantiate, how about turning out to watch a womens race once in a while?

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andyp [1473 posts] 2 years ago
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'in addition to the obligatory look round the shops etc'

In WGC? Good luck with that. Tis a dump.  1

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mooleur [537 posts] 2 years ago
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seanboy wrote:

he is dead right,nobody is interested in watching women cycling in this country,i know that sounds harsh,but that is just a fact!

Incorrect. Please do note that, in general, facts have to be backed up with credible evidence.

If you can back up your (ridiculously incoherent) statement with correctly gathered statistical data then PERHAPS I might not view you as such an impertinent ignoramus. However, for now I think the only reasonable response to this unbelievable quote would have to be; are you bloody bonkers or what mate?

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notfastenough [3716 posts] 2 years ago
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seanboy wrote:

he is dead right,nobody is interested in watching women cycling in this country,i know that sounds harsh,but that is just a fact!

Troll.

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