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Yorkshire Post's FOI request reveals arguments over publicity for visit of race...

With exactly 11 months to go until the 101st Tour de France begins in Leeds, concerns have been aired by The Yorkshire Post that the region’s name will be dropped with the race’s Grand Départ instead positioned as an England-wide event.

The newspaper claims that government documents secured by it under the Freedom of Information Act demonstrate a high degree of hostility in Whitehall to the successful bid to host the race by regional tourism agency, Welcome to Yorkshire.

At the heart of what the Leeds-based newspaper describes as “a clear snub to the Yorkshire tourism bosses” appears to be a potent mixture of sporting and government politics.

In November last year, Welcome to Yorkshire beat off rival bids to secure the event, including one led by VisitScotland that had the support of the UK government as well as British Cycling.

That bid originally envisaged the race starting in Edinburgh and staying within Scotland, but was subsequently amended to take include Wales then head towards the Channel Ports, to include more parts of the UK.

The successful bid from Welcome to Yorkshire sees Leeds host the build-up to the race and Stage 1 from that city to Harrogate on Saturday 5 July 2014. The following day, the race remains within Yorkshire, with Stage 2 from York to Sheffield, after which the race heads south for Stage 3 from Cambridge to London.

It’s the inclusion of that latter stage, thought to have been at the insistence of race owners ASO to bring the race closer to France ahead of its crossing the Channel, plus a desire to showcase 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games host city London that is partly behind the current controversy.

With the race no longer exclusively within the four modern counties that constitute the region, a meeting between UK Sport, VisitEngland and the Department for Media, Culture and Sport (DCMS) resulted in a decision to brand the Grand Départ as an ‘England’ event, according to The Yorkshire Post.

Another issue adding to the argument, it says, is the issue of funding for the event; under a recently announced deal, councils in Yorkshire will pay £11 million of the cost of putting the race on, with £10 million provided by central government.

The stakes are high. Last month, on the final day of the Tour de France in Paris, Welcome to Yorkshire’s chief executive Gary Verity told road.cc that he thought the economic impact of the Tour’s visit to the reaching would be “worth a lot more” than the £88 million generated by the London and Kent Grand Départ in 2007.

Part of the attraction of joining places such as Corsica or the Belgian province of Liège, in hosting the start of the race is the boost to the profile of an area that comes with the world’s biggest annual sporting event – something that for Yorkshire itself risks being watered down if England instead is emphasised in marketing campaigns built around the race.

Documents obtained by The Yorkshire Post – it describes them as ‘heavily censored’ – reveal that UK Sport has described Yorkshire’s hosting of the Grand Départ as a “very high risk project,” and one that has “significant financial and logistical challenges.”

The newspaper says that UK Sport had told the government in March that no public funding should be provided, expressing doubts regarding the “financial and logistical viability of the plans,” as well as having “limited confidence in Welcome to Yorkshire’s leadership of the event.”

The publication singles out one document as evidence of a desire by UK Sport, DCMS and VisitEngland to emphasise ‘England’ rather than ‘Yorkshire,’ the minutes of a meeting between them on 13 March this year, which stated:

“They discussed marketing the event as ‘England’, and the opportunities for VisitEngland to be involved in this. VisitEngland confirmed they would be keen to lead, and would provide...”

According to The Yorkshire Post, the remainder of the text had been redacted by lawyers acting for UK Sport.

In a sign of how the Tour’s visit may be pitched in the coming months, the newspaper also highlighted a recent press release from VisitEngland, which made just one reference to Yorkshire, and which began: “England has embarked on a cycling revolution. July 5 marks one year to go until the world’s biggest cycle race comes to English shores.”

However, the agency’s chief executive, James Berresford, explained that the wording reflected its role: “Our job as the national tourist board is to support all destinations in England linked with the Tour de France including Yorkshire, host to the Grand Départ, as well as Cambridge and London.

“We have been asked by the Government to make the most of this incredibly exciting event to market cycling tourism opportunities in England, and our strategy will be to highlight all the great destinations around England in which to enjoy this great sport.”

A spokesmen for DCMS added:  “We are completely committed to helping make the Tour De France 2014 Grand Départ in Yorkshire and the Cambridge to London stage a great success, and are contributing up to £10m of exchequer funding to make that happen.

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.

25 comments

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jgmacca [33 posts] 3 years ago
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Hmmm this sounds typical, jumping on the band wagon, then they'll take a disproportionate cut of the profit leaving Yorkshire that did all the hard work wi nowt to show ferit....

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mad_scot_rider [581 posts] 3 years ago
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Good heavens - it turns out politicians are weasels - quelle surprise!

Yorkshire were happy enough to jump in the van with Westmonster when money was offered - they should now not be too surprised by the tear-stained mattress and inappropriate behaviour they encounter there

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spragger [27 posts] 3 years ago
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This MUST not be allowed to happen. It was Welcome to Yorkshire that won the Grand Depart & anyone from England & beyond can come to Gods own County to see the first two stages.
Yorkshire is a great County, very efficient & can manage this well for the country.

Was it the LONDON Olympics, or England Olympics in 2012!

Home rule for Yorkshire, stop the establishment messing Le Tour up!

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leguape [43 posts] 3 years ago
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Scratch beneath the surface and it's a little more complicated.

Cambridge and London were aware they were in the bid - Julian Huppert replied to a tweet confirming Cambridge was and TfL gave me impression of definitely being aware.

Welcome to Yorkshire have been long on the bidding game- Verity told me they've been studying others since 2011. They pulled out some big stops to persuade ASO of their bid - helicopter flights over the Dales, Harewood House big lunch, persuasive video promo featuring Olympic torch relay, etc.

But they have been short on funding. When they went in they had no secured level of funding beyond public commitment from the regional authorities. They've also paid high for the rights - £4-6.5m staging fee compared to Corsica's £2m (see Corsican assembly papers).

The cost for the Yorkshire legs or the whole thing has gone from £12 to £14.2m to £21m faster than anyone has been able to account and with little accountability.

They got bounced by the DCMS for the £10m on the grounds that they didn't seem to have bothered with planning or promoting 1/3 of the bid. The Treasury bailed them the next day.

What you're seeing now is the result of them having to go cap in hand - they no longer control the event because the are reliant on other people's money. The kicker in all this is that Welcome to Yorkshire have been shunted out of the hot seat by a hastily arranged organising company and left with the 100 day cultural festival to run.

Visit England is never going to play at being Visit yorkshire because that's not its remit. Welcome to Yorkshire are the only people who can take responsibility if the branding is moved off Yorkshire to reflect the fact that 1/3 of the bid is Cambridge and London.

Westminster in the form of Visit England/DCMS isn't bandwagon jumping, it's demanding a proper representation for the massive sum it's put on the table to ensure that it happens - £10m of the £21m required funding. Yorkshire councils are not going to be happy that their end is now £11m, up from 6.5m but that's not central government's fault, that's Welcome to Yorkshire for promising more than they had in their gift, in my opinion.

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Chuck [550 posts] 3 years ago
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Sounds pretty out of order to me. Yorkshire made it happen, it's their show. Unless there is actually some credit to be given to Westminster.

EDIT: previous post got in just before me, maybe it's not so clear cut after all  39

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sfichele [141 posts] 3 years ago
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On official Le Tour website:

*******************************************
Grand Départ in Y O R K S H I R E for 2014
*******************************************

http://www.letour.com/le-tour/2013/us/grand-depart-2014.html

In 2007 it was the *London* prologue right?

Christian Prudhomme (tdf director):

"YORKSHIRE has earned the right to welcome the Tour"

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AWPeleton [3347 posts] 3 years ago
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Its typical Westminster bullshit. It's Yorkshire's Grand Depart not f'ing Englands. As for the govt putting money into it, isn't that what govt's are supposed to do, to help out in bringing greater revenue to an area, just look at the Olympics with the money they supplied for that.

As an earier comment said it was the London Olympics not Englands. The south just seem to want more and more and bollocks to anyone else.

I, for one, am glad i live as far away as possible from them in this country.

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notfastenough [3695 posts] 3 years ago
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leguape wrote:

Scratch beneath the surface and it's a little more complicated...

...but that's not central government's fault, that's Welcome to Yorkshire for promising more than they had in their gift, in my opinion.

I had wondered - you've got UK Sport getting all political and lawyer-ey, and statements of being 'concerned' about Yorkshire's ability to lead such a 'risky project'. There's a load of stuff implied there that warrant understanding of WtY's conduct thus far. Such an escalation in budget isn't a good sign.

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Not KOM [79 posts] 3 years ago
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Yorkshire getting screwed by the South of England ... nahh, really?

The only surprise is my lack of surprise. To a lot of politicians and media types, if it doesn't happen in London or the home counties ... it didn't happen.

Gits.

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euanlindsay [82 posts] 3 years ago
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Nah its more like the Yorkshire bid screwing the rest of the country, getting bailed out and complaining when they are told they need to offer something back for it.

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dodgy [194 posts] 3 years ago
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The route is still taking in Yorkshire isn't it?

Who cares! It will be Yorkshire pubs, restaurants and hotels being fully booked. It will be Yorkshire scenery displayed in HD quality on worldwide TV.

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drheaton [3318 posts] 3 years ago
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dodgy wrote:

The route is still taking in Yorkshire isn't it?

Who cares! It will be Yorkshire pubs, restaurants and hotels being fully booked. It will be Yorkshire scenery displayed in HD quality on worldwide TV.

The point is that the marketing material and commercials aired around the world during the Yorkshire stages of the tour may now be about visiting England and not Yorkshire.

The main economic benefit of hosting the Tour is not actually in the year of the Tour but in the subsequent years when areas see a marked increase in tourism. Yorkshire are banking on a huge increase in foreign visitors to the area or in people extending their trips to Scotland/London/other UK areas and taking in a bit of Yorkshire too.

To make the most of this Welcome to Yorkshire want to keep the word 'Yorkshire' in the spotlight and ensure that the majority of people who come to the UK after seeing the Tour come to Yorkshire. By marketing the race as an English grand depart the 'Yorkshire' brand is getting a watered down effect and a potential drop off in tourism over the next decade over what they might have expected from hosting a Yorkshire grand depart.

The UK as a whole benefits but Yorkshire gets a little screwed.

And to those who are pointing out that WtY had to go cap in hand to the government let me ask this, seeing as the government were already commited to footing the bill for the VisitScotland bid would that have been a UK Grand Depart or a Scottish one?

The whole things smacks of people bitter at losing out and looking to make the most of the situation.

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peterben [64 posts] 3 years ago
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It's jealousy. They had their pockets picked by Welcome to Yorkshire after backing a different bid. Gary Verity did the graft and UK Sport want the kudos.

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crash144019 [45 posts] 3 years ago
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About to go off on one then saw the the words "Yorkshire Post" if you have ever read this paper I need add no more.

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chokofingrz [407 posts] 3 years ago
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Agreed, if they were actually going to change the title from Yorkshire to England, it would have happened months ago, not now that the event has been widely publicised in the press and Christian Prudhomme has been bigging up Yorkshire in all his statements.

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The Rumpo Kid [589 posts] 3 years ago
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Before everyone gets tied in knots, this story is based on the minutes of a meeting held in March, where UK Sport and DCMS expressed their "limited confidence in WtY's leadership of the event," and suggested Visit England might be more capable. That is about as far as "replace Yorkshire with England" got (till now any way.)
Since that meeting, a committee has been set up, headed by former UK Sport Chief Sir Rodney Walker, with Gary Verity as his deputy, which will oversee the event outside London.

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farrell [1950 posts] 3 years ago
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dodgy wrote:

It will be Yorkshire pubs, restaurants and hotels being fully booked.

I'll be bringing my own booze with me and heading straight back to the proper side of the Pennines.

I wouldn't give that yorkshire lot the steam off my piss.

(Not really, I think we'll be going over and camping for the bike festival thing for the weekend.)

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mbrads72 [183 posts] 3 years ago
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Independence for Yorkshire I say. The cultural arrogance is astounding. Are they not in England?

My employer has 4 signficant sites in the UK. The only people who won't travel to the other 3 sites are the ones based in Yorkshire.

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theclaw [73 posts] 3 years ago
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Seriously, I am a born and bred Londoner, as proud as anybody of my city, but I have no problem at all with central government paying 50% and Yorkshire getting the promotional and tourism benefits. Yorkshire put in the leg work. As mentioned above, London got the Olympics branded for us, but every tax payer up and down the country contributed (quite a lot). And where are all the large infrastructure investments going? London, that's where. Who pays for them? Everybody, that's who. Crossrail,now Crossrail 2, airports, etc. What a mean bunch of grabbing, thieving, stinking weasels.

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theincrediblebike [40 posts] 3 years ago
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At the end of the day the Grand Tour is coming to the Uk, so for all cycling enthusiasts superb, for all the business owners a great time to whack up your prices and rip everyone off. Viva le tour.

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Gkam84 [9086 posts] 3 years ago
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 19 19 19 19 19

Oppps, Was I not supposed to laugh. I think it should be marketed as England, the government have had to chip it because Welcome to Yorkshire didn't have the finances to support their own bid.

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leguape [43 posts] 3 years ago
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Absolutely dirt being thrown on both sides. From memory the UK Sport backed bid sounds like the pan-UK project, running from Scotland to the channel. Originally it was looking to 2017 or 2016, but seems to have been pushed forward possibly for political ends. One possibility is that given the requirements of getting from Edinburgh to the channel, ASO felt they had more say in the route with the Yorkshire option and better logistics.

But yes, the escalating cost doesn't inspire confidence in the overall planning of what happened between winning the bid and the race arriving.

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Oh heck... [47 posts] 3 years ago
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The London officialdom element weren't exactly effusive in their support of the Yorkshire bid were they?

But now Yorkshire have out the graft in and succeeded, everyone wants a piece of it...

And as others have said, all the huge infrastructure projects, tubes, airports etc etc all seem to crop up south of Watford, and last year's games weren't 'England 2012' were they? I'm pretty sure they weren't in total financed by Londoners...

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dodgy [194 posts] 3 years ago
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Who can remember the shambles that was the 2007 Tour of Britain? When Yorkshire authorities including police refused to provide safe passage and part of the stage had to be neutralised?

Funny how things change.

Oh, here's a link http://www.cyclingweekly.co.uk/news/latest/348493/tour-of-britain-yorksh...

Now everyone loves cycling now it's the new golf  19

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gsk82 [36 posts] 3 years ago
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the problem is probably because the clowns in central government look at yorkshire and don't see hundreds of meetings, dinners and networking sessions so think it can't possibly work. thankfully WtY have just got on with winning the bid and putting on a great weekend.

as others have said, was the 12 billion spent on the olympics branded as england? maybe the grand depart is going to cost double the original budget, but the original budget for 2012 was £2.5 billion. it was only "under budget" because they kept increasing the budget.