Richmondshire councillor resigns as Tour de Yorkshire spokesman in protest over decision to spend £305,000 on hosting just one stage of the race

A leading Richmondshire councillor has staged an 'unprecedented' protest over the council's decision to spend up to £305,000 hosting one stage of the Tour de Yorkshire.

The Tour de Yorkshire in Hornsea in 2018

Coun Stuart Parsons, who has resigned as the authority’s spokesman for next year’s Tour de Yorkshire and from all committees, said the decision to plough taxpayers' money into the race instead of resolving issues over anti-social behaviour at Colburn lorry park in the long term was “ludicrous”.

The council’s corporate board is expected to decide on Tuesday whether to press ahead with plans to build toilet and shower facilities at the well-used lorry park beside Catterick Road, which a report to the meeting states would cost £17,000 annually to maintain.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The proposal follows Colburn Town Council moving to buy the site from the district council in order to close it and stop the area around the site being used as “an open toilet”, before withdrawing its request earlier this year as neighbouring parishes complained anti-social behaviour issues would be pushed their way.

Ahead of the meeting, the authority’s spokesman for operational services Coun Richard Good said: “The lorry park is a site that certainly needs looking at. There’s obviously issues that are concerning residents with overnight parking and hygiene issues that must be addressed.”

Both the lorry park site and support for the Tour de Yorkshire are issues that have already divided elected members of the council.

Last month while some members complained about the public purse being used to support the profit-making business ASO which runs the race, the majority agreed television coverage it generated, showcasing the area’s landscapes and attractions, boosted the local economy in the long-term.

Welcome to Yorkshire, which has revealed plans to attract businesses to help fund the event’s values such as diversity and equality, had warned that without the financial backing of councils the race could be moved elsewhere.

Coun Parsons, who is also the opposition leader on North Yorkshire County Council, said Richmondshire Council had examined the cost of the lorry park changes due to grave concerns over the site.

He said its elected members may have thought differently about agreeing to spend up to £305,000 on hosting a stage finish of the elite cycling race in Leyburn if they had known they needed to find money immediately for the lorry park.

He said: “The role of the district is surely to support the residents and improve their day to day lives. The benefits changes at the lorry park would bring the community are very evident. There would be at least ten years’ funding to maintain the lorry park if they weren’t wasting all this money on a one-day event and still have some change.”