Council cuts mean Woking faces 2011 Tour Series chop… but the show will go on
Council looks to local business to plug funding gap as other towns compete for places
Woking's place in this year's Halford's Tour Series lineup has been thrown in to doubt with Woking Borough Council is appealing to local businesses to step in to help provide the £50,000 needed to stage a round of the 2011 series in the town. Government cuts to council funding mean that Woking which last year hosted the Tour Series final may not be able to take part in this year's series of televised town centre bike racing,
"The council really wants this event to take place," Woking Borough Council chief executive Ray Morgan told the BBC:
"But in these difficult times it would find it difficult to put that type of money into it while there are severe limitations on public spending."
However, the council's "Big Society" appeal to local businesses is likely to fall on deaf ears as Louise Punter of the Surrey Chambers of Commerce said that the commercial sector would also find it difficult to fund the event. A business appraisal by the council of last year's Woking round of the Tour Series found that it had a net benefit to the local economy of £400,000 with 15,000 people turning out to watch the racing.
Tour Series organisers, Sweetspot, haven't given up on Woking just yet, Peter Hodges from Sweetspot told road.cc:
"We are still optimistic that the Woking round will take place, but at the same time we are also talking to other possible venues in case it can't".
While acknowledging that government cuts have made things more challenging for councils he also confirmed that there are more than enough towns across the UK interesting in filling the 10 Tour Series slots, and that there was no question that council funding cuts might endanger this year's series or lead to fewer rounds being run.
The dates for the 10 rounds of this year's Hafords Tour Series have already been set, round one is on the 17th of May and Round 10 on 16th of June. The line up of towns taking part will be announced in the coming weeks with the series' official launch slated for March.
Any fears that local government cuts could also impact on the Tour of Britain, which uses a similar business model to the Tour Series of funding the race through deals with local and regional bodies were also dismissed, the Tour of Britain is based on multi-year agreements most of which still have one or two years to run.
"It's full steam ahead for 2011 the race will start in Scotland, then Wales and finish in London I can't tell you about the points in between just yet because we don't want to give the game away ahead of the offical launch this spring, I can tell you that there are gong to be some surprises though. We're all genuinely excited" Hodges told us.
We also understand that plans are already being discussed for 2012 and beyond a sign of the success and growth the Tour of Britain has enjoyed over its relatively brief seven year existence. As reported on road.cc earlier this month any problems the Tour of Britain has are more to do with its rapid growth and accommodating all the ProTour teams that want to take part while maintaining its commitment to the top British teams too.