Up to £190,000 a year is a good price to be paying for the chain reaction of public benefits triggered by the Tour de Yorkshire, councillors have claimed.
While uncertainty continues to surround how much funding district councils will contribute towards next year’s race, North Yorkshire County Council’s leading members have unanimously approved a move to raise its support towards the hosting fee for the international cycling race and the event’s associated costs by £10,000.
A report to the authority’s executive highlighted how the May Day weekend event “could be viewed as a ‘luxury’ item when reductions in funding and resource have been made on other council services”, but corporate director David Bowe said the race generated little controversy.
He told members the event had faced only “occasional criticism, particularly from elements of the community who are adversely affected by the race”, but improved traffic management procedures had minimised disruption.
No opposition councillors or residents who have voiced concerns over using the public purse to fund a cycling race attended the meeting held in public at County Hall.
Leading members of the Conservative-run authority said spending £190,000 a year for the next two years should be considered a “very opportune investment”, and help build on the visitor economy.
The payment of the £100,000 hosting fee contribution to Tour de France organisers ASO, will be on the proviso that a substantial proportion of the race route will be within North Yorkshire during both the 2019 and 2020 races.
The council’s access boss, Councillor Don Mackenzie told the committee: “It helps put Yorkshire and especially North Yorkshire, where much of the Tour de Yorkshire takes place normally, on the map worldwide for cycling events.”
Stronger communities boss and Whitby councillor David Chance described the economic impact of the race as “quite dramatic”, due to 20 hours of television broadcasts in the UK and being screened on television in 190 countries.
He said: “If you look at the direct contribution of that, it’s a very small amount to get that kind of exposure,”
Cllr Chance added: “I am also hugely supportive of the wellbeing legacy that comes with it from a public health point of view. The number of people who have become interested in and taken up cycling is really good.
“There’s also a residents’ feel-good factor. Residents are extremely proud of this event now. You see this with the numbers who turn out on the route. It’s also helping with community cohesion and community pride.”