Opposition Liberal Democrats on York’s Labour-run city council have accused the administration of failing to properly plan for the cost of staging the Tour de France next year, and raised fears that the bill could spiral out of control.
Stage 2 of the 2014 Tour de France will start in York on July 6 and is already expected to cost £1.3 million. According to the Yorkshire Post, liberal Democrat councillors have claimed speculation is rife that the bill will turn out to be higher when the detailed route is announced next week.
The majority Labour group voted against providing a full business case for hosting the Tour, leading Lib-Dem leader Keith Aspden to accuse the council of masking the true cost of the event. Labour says the demand is “unrealistic” as it would involve expensive additional research.
The council’s cabinet member for leisure, culture and tourism, Sonja Crisp said that the cost of hosting the Tour was being closely monitored and that detailed figures were being made available.
Coun Aspden said: “Hosting the Tour De France is a huge opportunity for York, but we need to make sure the costs are kept under control. Originally the council spent £50,000 to secure the race, then it was a £500,000 hosting fee, and earlier this month a further £870,000 was put into staging the event.
“The costs have consistently gone up and we need to know if the council expects these to continue to rise and if they do where the money is going to come from. Residents have a right to know what the council expects to spend and where the money will come from. They will wonder why Labour were so keen to deny them this right.
“The Tour de France is a great opportunity to show the world what we already know - that York is a fantastic place, a place that knows how to put on a good show. But in doing so the council must not forget that it is taxpayers’ money they are spending and we need more than the vague estimates and promises offered by Labour so far.”
Coun Crisp said: “A case for funding a Tour de France stage start in York was made a long time ago and the costs have been made public at every step of the way once those costs were known. Liberal Democrats appear unhappy with the Tour De France coming to York, and would be happier if York had declined to be involved, reflecting their lack of ambition for the city. The money allocated is an investment in York businesses, York jobs and in a cycling legacy for the city and we are proud to be playing our part in such a major global sporting event.”
The second stage of the Tour de France starts in York and finishes in Sheffield. Last week, Sheffield City Council was in the news, explaining that the city's planned £900,000 bill for the stage finish would bring in £15 million in economic benefits.
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.