Richmondshire District Council — which sparked controversy after approving a plan to spend £305,000 of taxpayers’ money supporting an international cycling race — is to consider proposals to spend it instead on boosting large-scale festivals hit by the pandemic or to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
Leading members are set to consider three options to spend £100,000 of the funds following the cancellation of next year’s Tour de Yorkshire.
The authority’s corporate board has already approved spending much of the remainder on its Community Investment Fund, which can be used by communities to deliver local climate change projects or outcomes.
When the authority approved pumping a further £100,000 into the cycling race in June, some members said they wanted to back the event as they wanted to see an extended Festival of Yorkshire, heralding Yorkshire’s food and drink, arts and culture, heritage and music, staged alongside the race.
Nevertheless, high-profile councillors said the funding was needed to support existing festivals in the district following the pandemic or to support community-focused cycling schemes.
An officer’s report to the corporate board on Tuesday states how the Tour de Yorkshire’s cancellation had left a gap in the plans of the district council for a major community event next year.
As one of three potential schemes for the £100,000, officers have outlined plans to support up to 20 large-scale festivals, such as the Leyburn 1940s Weekend, Swaledale Festival, Whit Weekend in Richmond, Catterick Christmas Fest or the Wensleydale Show, with up to £7,000 to give them a boost after suffering pandemic-related losses.
The report states such as scheme would “deliver a significant benefit to the local economy and positively promote community engagement and participation”.
Another option members will consider would be to support holding up to 133 small-scale community festivals and events throughout next year.
The final scheme being tabled would see up to 100 communities wanting to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee next year awarded grants of up to £2,000.
The report states: “These events are likely to be very small scale or community-based activities which will have minimal wider economic impact.”
However, council sources say the workload involved in processing a large number of processing applications could see the latter two options discounted by councillors as officers are already facing numerous tasks due to local government reorganisation and applications to the Community Investment Fund.
The authority’s spokesman for strategy, Councillor Philip Wicks, said each of the options had strengths and weaknesses and as far as he was concerned there was “no frontrunner”.
He said: “Support for the Tour de Yorkshire was quite divisive. However, we felt a wider celebration of Yorkshire as part of the Tour de Yorkshire was a good idea and that’s where this suggestion to support festivals within Richmondshire sprung from.
“It is the commitment towards community that we feel is important. It gives the community to celebrate in a variety of different ways. It is a positive development as we hopefully come out of the other side of the pandemic. This is a way of trying to get back to normal.”