Richmondshire councillors pledge to learn lessons from visit of Tour de France

The Tour de France passes through Reeth in 2014. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.

Lessons from Yorkshire’s staging of the Tour de France must be learnt and acted upon if the area if to maximise the benefits of staging the UCI World Cycling Championships, councillors have said.

As Richmondshire District Council’s corporate board unanimously approved offering communities a share of £25,000 to stage events for the races in September, members highlighted issues that left some residents furious after the Grand Depart in 2014.

The meeting heard the 285km route of the Men’s Elite Road Race on September 29 would follow that of the Tour de France opening stage, and preparations needed to be made to cater for the masses of people expected to head to the Yorkshire Dales.

Councillors said they were particularly keen to avoid a repeat of the Upper Dales area, which features in some 44 miles of the blue riband race, being brought to a standstill, leaving many people on the periphery of the route.

Upper Dales councillor John Blackie said the 2014 minimum eight-hour road closures, which had been designed for the safety and enjoyment of racers and spectators, had been “well and truly over the top”.

He said: “The length of time the roads were closed was a huge headache and we wouldn’t have been able to send an emergency ambulance to James Cook University Hospital.

“Not every resident is keen on cycling and on race day some people need to go about their business. The road closures must not defeat the objects they were introduced for.”

The authority’s leader, Councillor Yvonne Peacock said she welcomed North Yorkshire County Council’s move to using rolling road closures for the races, whereby lanes would be shut for a minimum amount of time as the competitors passed through an area.

The meeting was told another issue that had left people fuming in 2014 was the absence of toilet provision across the categorised climbs of Buttertubs Pass and Grinton Moor.

Members were told in 2014 about 30,000 spectators massed on Buttertubs pass alone, and due to a failure to provide toilets, an unsanitary mess was left behind.

Cllr Peacock said: “There wasn’t much that went wrong with the Tour de France, but there was a bit of a mix-up with who was providing the toilets and they didn’t turn up. That’s a situation that we will ensure is not repeated for the World Championships.

“We know that people will be heading to Grinton Moor and Buttertubs as it is absolutely spectacular seeing the bikes going up the climbs.”

After the meeting, North Yorkshire County Council’s highways boss, Councillor Don Mackenzie said every effort would be made during the planning and delivery of the race to help keep levels of traffic congestion and road closures to a minimum.

He said: “Our officers have built up a great deal of experience and expertise over the past five years of staging the Tour de Yorkshire and Tour de France. These races being a lot of business and people to North Yorkshire and although the council will ask race organisers to minimise road closures, a certain amount of disruption will be unavoidable.”