Organisers of next year’s Tour de France Grand Départ are celebrating this evening after Yorkshire MPs secured a promise of £10 million in funding from Secretary of State for Culture Maria Miller to help stage the event. The commitment comes after Sports Minister Hugh Robertson had been highly critical of Welcome to Yorkshire in a letter sent to the chief executive of Leeds City Council.
MS Miller made the commitment following a meeting today with MPs representing constituencies in North Yorkshire one of whom, Julian Sturdy, told York Press: “We’re absolutely delighted the money is secured and there is a wholehearted Government commitment to Yorkshire staging the Tour.
“There are provisos and we must make sure we have a delivery plan which is properly budgeted and which the Government has confidence in, because there have been issues and we can’t brush over that.
“But this commitment has been secured by MPs going directly to the Culture Secretary and is recognition of how important the Tour is to Yorkshire’s economy.”
Julian Smith, MP for Skipton and Ripon, described the promise of funding as “fantastic news,” and went on to say: “I will now be working closely with the Government and Yorkshire’s Tour de France team to ensure we have the structure and governance in place to deliver an outstanding event which showcases Yorkshire to the world.”
According to York Press, in his letter addressed to Tom Riordan, Sports Minister Mr Robertson had criticised the tourism agency for what he viewed as a failure to address the arrangements for Stage 3 of the race, which runs from Cambridge to London.
He also told the Leeds City Council chief executive that the government lacked confidence in what it viewed as a “very unsettled” budget to stage the event.
Welcome to Yorkshire had submitted a bid for funding to UK Sport, but Mr Robertson believed it “difficult if not impossible” to secure cash prior to “detailed information about the delivery of the event as a whole” being given.
He also stated that due to the Tour being likely to attract spectators in large numbers irrespective of advertising, it would not be necessary to put in place an “expensive marketing strategy.”
A source from the Department for Culture Media and Sport quoted in today's Financial Times cast doubt on the abiity of the current plan to deliver the world class event that was expected and said that the department wanted to see a much more joined up approach for the visit of the world's biggest cycle race which maximised the benefits both for Yorkshire and for the other parts of the country that the race passes through. According to the FT report better governance is a pre-condition for the extra £10million in funding.
As we reported earlier this week, British Cycling, Sustrans and CTC are all committed to helping fund a lasting legacy for cycling in Yorkshire as a result of the Tour’s visit next year, although the governing body has said that there must be concrete benefits for grassroots cycling.
However, there were still concerns over how Yorkshire, which beat off competing bids from Edinburgh and Florence to win the right to host the opening days of next year’s race, would actually pay for staging the event itself.
As long as whatever conditions Ms Miller has stipulated can be satisfied, those concerns are now likely to recede, and certainly there seems to be an element of relief among those connected with the bid this evening.
Tomorrow, plans will be revealed for how Yorkshire and next year’s Grand Départ will be showcased during this year’s Tour de France.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.