Gearing up for Tour’s legacy

YORKSHIRE found itself on the global stage yesterday – and demonstrated the verve and chutzpah that delivered the Tour De France to the Broad Acres.

Addressing the Paris audience – and those watching on television around the world – Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity declared: “We are ready.”

The truth is that Yorkshire has been ready for some time. In the summer, with a year to go to next July’s Grand Départ, Mr Verity insisted that the county was ready to host the biggest sporting event in the world which is free to watch.

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While some may consider this to be grandstanding, it merely underlines the confidence and vision that secured the Tour for Yorkshire in the first place.

As Mr Verity said yesterday: “We are leaders by nature. We believe in ourselves, in our abilities and we have a fierce will to succeed.”

It is those qualities that secured the Tour for Yorkshire and, with the unveiling of the precise route the two stages will take through the county, spectators can now pick their preferred vantage point to see this epic sporting event in full flow. The luckiest among them can look forward to the race virtually passing their front door.

Where the Yorkshire bid really comes into its own, however, is in the precise area that organisers of the otherwise hugely successful London Olympics were found wanting.

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The preparations for the Tour’s arrival have been mirrored every step of the way by planning for the legacy its visit will leave behind. A host of schemes are in the pipeline – including free bike-lending services aimed at ensuring that more youngsters in Yorkshire take up cycling.

Leeds has pledged to double its number of cycleways, while Welcome to Yorkshire is looking to bring more cycling events and bike races to the county as it seeks to ultimately position Yorkshire as the cycling capital of Europe.

The 2014 route will also be permanently signposted in order to encourage amateur cyclists from across the world to come here and pedal where the likes of Chris Froome, Mark Cavendish and Sir Bradley Wiggins have gone before.

For now, however, all eyes are on next summer and the arrival of the world’s biggest sporting event. Roll on July 5.

On the front line

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THE most distressing aspect of the Andrew Mitchell “plebgate” scandal is that Sheffield-born Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, Britain’s most senior policeman, agrees with the call by top Tory David Davis for all officers to wear “cameras and microphones” in future as a matter of routine.

What does it say about the police’s trustworthiness, and the extent to which their reputation has been diminished by a succession of scandals, when many remember the era when the beat bobby was the pillar of the local community because of an unimpeachable reputation?

It is a question that became even more pertinent after yesterday’s Parliamentary grilling of those officers who falsely accused Mr Mitchell, the former Tory chief whip, of being economical with the truth over the precise words that he used during his now infamous Downing Street exchange.

This only came about because Mr Mitchell was instructed by his wife to record the conversation – sound advice which enabled him to prove that he had been totally misrepresented by the Police Federation representatives, and expose the weakness of those chief officers who did not think that this dishonesty was a disciplinary matter.

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In one regard, the ex-International Development Secretary is fortunate that he has the financial means, and influential supporters like Mr Davis, to take on the police – some would contend that he should not have used disrespectful language towards officers 
in the first place.

Yet, while David Cameron considers whether to bring back his former colleague to the Cabinet, this must not detract from a far more fundamental question – how can the police win back the trust of the public, and in particular those unfortunate individuals who can’t afford to go to such far-reaching lengths to clear their names?

Picture perfect

THE christening of Prince George in the little-known Chapel Royal at St James’s Palace could not have been a more intimate occasion after the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge again shunned tradition by entrusting seven friends – including Zara Tindall – to be godparents.

Their careful choice again illustrated the strength of their desire for their baby, a future king, to enjoy a normal upbringing, with the Middleton family appearing to relish the babysitting duties they have quietly assumed, rather than a nanny being asked to take on these onerous responsibilities.

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Yet, even by the Royal Family’s standards, this was an incredibly historic occasion and the first time since 1894, and the christening of the future Edward VIII, when a Queen has been photographed with three future monarchs – Charles, William and George. It is a picture that speaks volumes about the House of Windsor’s ability to move with the generations, and especially those protocols which were considered sacrosanct as recently as Prince William’s christening in 1982.