A senior councillor has questioned if the money spent on the Tour de Yorkshire was worth it – but Richmondshire’s council leader says the expenditure was “worth every penny”.
North Yorkshire cash-trapped councils are being urged to justify why they are spending millions of pounds of taxpayers money on the race.
Local authorities are facing calls to further examine the benefits of staging the international cycling race, just days after organisers announced more than two million spectators turned out for the fourth staging of the event.
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Richmondshire District Council spent around £220,000 on hosting the start of the third day in Richmond, as well as supporting communities in the district to stage their own celebrations.
North Yorkshire County Council has spent a further £180,000 on the race for the last two years.
Leader of the county council’s Labour group, Councillor Eric Broadbent, said while it was clear a large proportion of the county’s investment had been used to bring the race route to a “pristine standard”, other roads had been left “looking like a meteor had hit them”.
He said given the financial pressures on frontline services, there should be greater consideration of whether it should be solely sponsored by firms alongside a thorough review of the benefits for residents “as would be done for any other outlay of public money”.
Council leaders say they have a duty to the businesses to promote it as a popular place for people to visit, and studies had shown more than 20 per cent of those at the roadside are from elsewhere in the UK and abroad.
And Cllr Peacock, leader of Richmondshire District Council, said the money her authority spent was “worth every penny”.
She added: “Yes there was a risk in spending all that money but you can’t put a figure on all those TV viewers see what a beautiful place Richmond is and how welcoming the people are.
“Communities have come together and had a hugely enjoyable weekend and we saw after we hosted the Tour de Yorkshire Grand Depart what a boost to the economy cycling can deliver.”
“It was a huge honour for the district to play host to such a prestigious event. We had the world’s cameras on us and we definitely made the most of it.
“The crowds surpassed all our expectations and they embraced the essence of the tour – whether it was coming in their cycling gear to meet the riders, dressing in the tour colours of yellow and blue, making land art, or simply standing in the sunshine to cheer the cyclists by.
“It has been a huge boost to the local economy – businesses are reporting a bumper weekend – “Now we want to see all those visitors returning again and again to our beautiful district.”
The third stage of this year’s race also saw large crowds turn out in Hambleton district.
The district council’s leader, Councillor Mark Robson said its £25,000 outlay on items such as safety barriers had brought clear dividends to the local economy, with lengthy queues outside a wide variety of shops.
He added the authority had declined a chance to start or finish a stage of this year’s race due to the costs.
Councillor Don MacKenzie, the county council’s roads boss, said many of the benefits the race brought, such as community cohesion and the feel-good factor, were unquantifiable.
He said: “I think it does represent good value for the taxpayer. It puts Yorkshire on the map. Two days after the race people are still talking about the Tour de Yorkshire and some fantastic photographs are being beamed out all over the world.
“It does bring a great number of visitors who spend their money with North Yorkshire’s businesses and shops and encourage people to take exercise, to get out of their cars onto their bikes and even onto their feet. These are unquantifiable benefits, but they are very important.”