Tour of Britain hit business in Colchester claim - UPDATED

Local traders complain of loss of business thanks to race closing roads

by Martin Thomas   September 28, 2010  

Tour of Britain Image compo---7

The Tour of Britain damaged trade in Colchester, according to a survey of local businesses.

The Colchester Gazette reports that 68% of the 150 town centre businesses surveyed in the town complained of a severe drop in trade because roads were closed for the penultimate leg of the ToB on 17 September.

The survey was carried out by Sue Lissimore, shadow portfolio holder for economy and tourism at Colchester Council.

All of the food outlets surveyed – that’s 4% of the total – said they’d enjoyed better trade than usual, while 16% of traders said business was the same.

Tour of Britain commercial manager Alastair Grant said he hadn’t heard of complaints being made anywhere else visited by this year's Tour.

He suggested that many businesses would benefit from the presence of the Tour and a few would lose out – but that the overall effect should be positive.

He said, “It really depends on which types of business you speak to. Shops might well be affected but pubs, hotels and food outlets would probably do more business than usual.

“If you have a shop on the high street and the high street’s closed for the race then clearly there would be an impact on your trade for the day. But I would suggest that people who would have done their shopping that day might well simply come back the following day instead.”

There’s a bigger picture to bear in mind too, according to Grant. He said, “There aren’t that many days when places like Colchester enjoy the spotlight quite as much as when an event like the Tour of Britain comes to town. It offers a platform from which to promote Colchester – and to promote cycling too. I know they have some issues with traffic in the town and I think hosting the Tour was a fantastic opportunity to promote cycling.”

Grant said the Tour had commissioned an economic impact report based on interviews with people attending the race to find out how far they’d travelled and what they’d been spending their money on. The final report, expected at end of October, should throw some interesting new light on the question.

15 user comments

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Very typical of Colchester council to carry this survey out, it's only one day for christ's sake! Just another indication of the severe lack of interest and support for cycling in the UK.

Did London traders complain when it went through the very next day? Of course not!

posted by Karbon Kev [683 posts]
28th September 2010 - 10:54


Karbon Kev wrote:
Did London traders complain when it went through the very next day? Of course not!

To be fair, I walked around at least half of the London course (on decidedly pedestrian-unfriendly 'pavements' for the most part), and apart from a couple of pubs, the only two businesses I encountered were the small shop inside the Newham Council Offices (so out of bounds to the public anyway) and the coffee kiosk by the DLR, which seemed to be doing a decent trade pre-Tour Ride Wink

But, yes, it is a shame that the race doesn't get embraced more by local businesses, if you've ever been in a French town or village when the Tour goes through (let alone hosts a stage finish) there's a real buzz about it and everyone joins in.

I don't think a slight drop in trade on a Friday afternoon in September is going to drive anyone to the wall, though...

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [9493 posts]
28th September 2010 - 11:57


Glastonbury was packed...I wonder why colchester seemed different?

not all carbon is the same.

Jon Burrage's picture

posted by Jon Burrage [1081 posts]
28th September 2010 - 12:29


This is just typical of the 'anti - health, cycling' mentality of many councils throughout the UK. They would rather see vehicles flocking to their towns so they can rake in parking charges, and big businesses prospering and paying rates rather than promoting large events like the Tour of Britain and encouraging tourism in the area!

The survey highlights that the 4% of businesses that did well were food outlets but does not highlight the makeup of the 68% that fared badly. There is no mention made of B&B's and hotels seeing an increase of trade. It was only one day in the year which is not going to bankrupt in one fell swoop!

I suppose we can be thankful that the locals were not scattering tacks on the route like the Etape Caladonia the other year!!! Cool

giff77's picture

posted by giff77 [1184 posts]
28th September 2010 - 12:34


Purely anecdotal - I'm sure the impact was negligible or made up for on subsequent days. Nice solid bit of research, a bit like asking Daily Mail readers about immigration.

G-bitch's picture

posted by G-bitch [320 posts]
28th September 2010 - 12:48


Let's not blame Colchester Council - this survey wasn't carried out by them but by the local Conservative's shadow head of tourism & economy Sue Lissimore. She was also pretty vocal last year in opposing the Tour Series going to Colchester because of road closures in the city centre as we reported here

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4201 posts]
28th September 2010 - 12:49


Sounds to me like sour grapes. Perhaps she can't get her 4x4 parked in the town center on that day, so wants everyone else to suffer.

posted by iscott66 [68 posts]
28th September 2010 - 13:14


Hmm, worthy of a letter to the paper pointing out that she opposed the race and questioning the accuracy of her findings on grounds of personal bias then.


posted by OldRidgeback [2577 posts]
28th September 2010 - 14:20


Thing is, this year's ToB was fantastic, and I was glued to the telly for most of the stages. A lot of them I saw and thought, "Hmm, that's a nice place, must go there sometime."

Unfortunately, in Colchester's case, I'll now think, "Hmm, that's the place with those moany tw*ts, isn't it?" A bit like the Etape Caledonia's ACRE, I wish the businesses who did object would make themselves known, so I could boycott them next time I'm over that way, and favour those supporting the event.

Interestingly, our local radio (Radio Stoke) had a phone in programme in the week ahead of last Sunday's Tour Ride in which the presenter took a similar tack, bemoaning the effect of bringing the race to the city (albeit more on the lines of taxpayers' money being spent on it). I didn't hear the programme myself, but Mrs Monkey reported that a lot of callers disagreed strongly, pointing out that the exposure the town got, and the promotion of Stoke as a cycling city was something well worth the expenditure.

There is hope, I suppose, at least in the potteries.

"Tant que je respire, j'attaque!"

John_the_Monkey's picture

posted by John_the_Monkey [428 posts]
29th September 2010 - 8:18


After the mauling the Sky Ride got in the local press, God help us if the ToB ever comes to Bath Sad

Conscientious Objector in the War on Vulnerable Road Users

t1mmyb's picture

posted by t1mmyb [87 posts]
29th September 2010 - 9:51


wouldn't worry too much on that one t1mmyb - apart from you and Dave, and he only seems to comment on their website, who actually reads the Bath Chronicle? All the non-cycling types I've met thought the Sky Ride was great.

As for Colchester John - to be fair to the locals I'm sure I remember reading some reaction from there after the same councillor slagged off the Tour Series and it was overwhelmingly positive. Colchester is also one of Cycling England's Cycling Towns - so you'd imagine there'd be some local support for pedal power.

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4201 posts]
29th September 2010 - 10:16


Fair enough Tony, they're off my blacklist for now. But tell them to watch their step, ok? Big Grin

"Tant que je respire, j'attaque!"

John_the_Monkey's picture

posted by John_the_Monkey [428 posts]
29th September 2010 - 14:20


As a Colchester local being described as a "moany twat" on a cycling forum is insulting - Thanks John.

Having been at the race it was obvious that the layout of the event was not ideal for promoting business in the town centre. The finish line was outside the Castle at the top of East Hill at the Junction with the High st. and Queen st. this was great from the race as the the road narrows further up into the shops and would have also negated the effect of the hill leading to the finish. What this did do however was mean that from a spectator point of view we were all crammed on to the Minories side of the street where the pavements are narrow and it was a real squeeze and impossible for disabled access.

From the towns point of view all the high street was closed off to cars for all the Go ride bits and pieces. The 8 man bikes and other bits which were just ignored by most people and the high street had an eerie feel to it . I can completely understand why shops saw less business as the bulk of spectators left the event and then drifted in to the Castle park where there was more ToB related amusements.

Basically the event would have been much more of a success, in my opinion, if the finish line was 250m further up the road - say outside the town hall. Then there would have been much better consideration for spectators and local businesses with a real bustle outside the high street shops.

I did feel at the time that the event was a real missed opportunity for business and was disappointed by the lack of atmosphere in the town in comparison to Bury st Edmunds and Long Melford where the towns clearly benefited from the event.

It is also worth mentioning that Colchester was regarded as the most accommodating of the Tour Series hosts last year from the organisers that I have spoken to personally, and yes it is a cycling town.

Trev Allen's picture

posted by Trev Allen [169 posts]
29th September 2010 - 15:09


As a colchestarian and attendee of the event, i have to say it was very well run and managed. I do agree with Trev above.
Most people enjoyed the event very much. I also know of some who watched and so inspired are now cycling too
We are not ALL moaners in Colchester, its a great town really

posted by sandrabiker [2 posts]
30th September 2010 - 12:44


I hope this photo shows people what it was like watching. Yes there is loads of happy people crammed in 7 deep but also does highlight the difficulties with the position of the finish line - just to the left of shot

On telly the cameras made it look like there wasnt loads of people there but that was probably because loads were just wedged in the traffic jam at the finish and couldn't move down the course.

Either way was great to see such a high level of racing come to Colchester and it was enjoyed by many thousands of people on the day.

The criticism from the survey should be used to help improve the next event for all parties concerned.

Tour of Britan 2010 105.JPG
Trev Allen's picture

posted by Trev Allen [169 posts]
1st October 2010 - 9:13