Harrogate will NOT host the Tour de Yorkshire 2020 following public backlash against cycling events

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Harrogate Council have confirmed that they will not be hosting the Tour de Yorkshire 2020 - saying that the town needs a 'rest' from major cycling events.

Harrogate was a host town for the Tour de France Grand Depart 2014 and the subsequent Tour de Yorkshire races have regularly used the town as a base.

In September Harrogate was also the main host of the UCI World Road Championships and a Fan Zone was set up on The Stray.

Five questions about the West Park Stray damage that need to be answered
However, the event provoked a backlash after wet weather left the West Park area of The Stray in poor condition and caused significant damage to the grass. The area remains fenced off.

Business owners also complained that trade was down as customers could not access shops and other services in Harrogate town centre due to road closures put in place for the races.

Tour de Yorkshire organisers Welcome to Yorkshire are due to announce the route and host towns for the 2020 race this Friday, but Harrogate Council leader Richard Cooper confirmed that the authority had asked not to be considered.

“The council was asked some time ago by Welcome to Yorkshire about whether it would be interested in hosting any elements of the Tour de Yorkshire in 2020. We declined the offer.

“I think people want a rest from big events for a while and that is what I want to give them.

“The council is working with stakeholders to draw up a new events strategy.

Council face £21,000 bill to cover Stray repairs
“When it is complete we will consult with residents, businesses and community groups so we can all reach agreement on what kind of events the town wishes to host, the impact those events will have on our daily lives and the benefits they will bring to local businesses.”

The Stray left needing £21,000 of repairs

Part of the Fan Zone had to be closed during the UCI as ground conditions were so poor and visitors' safety was at risk. A closing concert by The Feeling was also cancelled.

The UCI organisers only handed the land back to the council this week after spending over a month trying to restore the grass at West Park.

A council spokesman said:

“We are working with an agronomy specialist to develop the plan for reinstatement. The expert’s comments are helpful and confirm what we already know.

“We are under no illusion about the size and scale of the task at hand. We are also considering additional drainage work to improve the Stray."

Part of one of the main footpaths through West Park has now been re-opened, fencing is due to be removed this week and some grass verges have been restored.

"The ground conditions on West Park Stray remain very challenging. Many areas are still water-logged and the short-term forecast is not encouraging.

"We do not wish to bring works machinery on to the site for fear of causing even further damage."

“We are expecting further information from the specialist later this week and will use this to develop a detailed plan and timeline for repairs.”

Members of the Stray Defence Association described the aftermath of the nine-day cycling festival as 'atrocious'.

Chairwoman Judy d'Arcy Thompson said not enough protection had been provided.

"No one looking at it could doubt the atrocious damage suffered by Harrogate’s Stray during the past weeks, particularly West Park Stray. Damage which is so appalling it is hard to quantify.

"It is our view that, despite the assurances we sought, and were given, from every public body that any damage would be minimized, far too little appropriate and adequate protection was provided for the Stray.

"Long after such events leave town it is our Stray which remains, a constant and unique asset promoting Harrogate as a beautiful place to visit.

Yorkshire Post letters: Readers hit out after Stray left looking a mess
"What sort of feasibility study was done to ascertain potential destruction over such a lengthy period of appropriation?

"The Stray Defence Association has been contacted by many local people who, like ourselves, are deeply distressed by what has occurred.

"We fear that the full restoration of Harrogate’s wonderful Stray will take a very long time."

The repair bill could stretch to £21,000, although the council are hopeful of pursuing a successful insurance claim.