Funding for Tour de Yorkshire to be reviewed next year
Jul 14, 2021
Tour de Yorkshire, SW Pix
The Tour de Yorkshire passing through Filey in 2018. Picture courtesy of SW Pix

North Yorkshire County Council has said it will review whether to continue funding the Tour de Yorkshire from the public purse.

Senior county councillors agreed yesterday to give next year’s race £200,000 worth of support but agreed to review its future after it has been held.

Councillors approved a payment of £100,000 to fund the event and to set aside a further £100,000 to underwrite any failure to secure sponsorship.

It comes after Amaury Sports Organisation, which is part of a French media group that owns the event and co-organises it with Welcome to Yorkshire, said last week it would not cover the costs of the race.

A meeting of the council’s executive heard “most if not all” local authorities responsible for next year’s start and finish towns and cities of Leyburn, Barnsley, Beverley, Halifax, Huddersfield, Leeds, Redcar and Skipton have agreed to pay race organisers up to £100,000 extra if Welcome to Yorkshire fails to raise sufficient sponsorship for the event.

The tourism body approached the councils, which have also approved paying hundreds of thousands of pounds in fees to ASO, to help guarantee the event after the French media group firm stated it was no longer prepared to shoulder any potential losses despite standing to profit from it.

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The meeting saw the county council’s leading members agree to the funding on the condition the authority undertakes two reviews following the sixth edition of the race.

Cllr Gareth Dadd, the county council’s deputy leader, said twin reviews would examine the event’s impact, such as how much sponsorship and media coverage it generated, and “the principle of support” for one-off events.

Growing unease

Whether public money should be used for cycling races has not been thoroughly examined by any council in the region since council tax was first used to help host the Tour de France Grand Depart in 2014.

The reviews follow growing unease among some of the region’s councillors, and strong opposition being voiced by others, about council tax being prioritised for an elite cycling race over community infrastructure and services. Many residents financially struggling from the pandemic are being asked to pay more council tax.

Sources at a number of district and borough councils in North Yorkshire say there is little appetite to fund cycling events in the near future, particularly after the rain-affected 2019 UCI Road World Championships in Harrogate caused such disruption and travel problems.

However, numerous elected members continue to point towards the economic impact of the events on the region’s economy. An independent study found in 2018 alone the Tour de Yorkshire generated £98 million as some 2.6 million spectators lined the route and many others saw some of the area’s most spectacular landscapes on television.

After county council leader Cllr Carl Les left the meeting because he is a Welcome to Yorkshire board member, Cllr Dadd emphasised to the executive the vote over whether to agree to underwrite next year’s event was “not a decision over Welcome to Yorkshire and its existence” but purely about the Tour de Yorkshire.

He said: 

“It is a vital part or has been a vital part of North Yorkshire’s economy. Now more than ever we shouldn’t be turning our back on opportunities.

“The information that we have received is that all those councils that have a start and finish have been asked to contribute in a similar manner and I think most of them if not all have pledged to do so.

“We have a leadership responsibility in North Yorkshire. As the top tier authority I think we have a duty to support anything that could have potential benefits to tourism.”