Underspend to fund £500,000 police costs for Tour de France

The 2013 Tour de France
The 2013 Tour de France
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HALF a million pounds is to be spent on policing the Tour de France by North Yorkshire Police despite earlier irritation that organisers had not consulted the force over the cost of ensuring public safety for the event.

But costs for policing in West and South Yorkshire remain unclear with no figures forthcoming from either force. Neither offered any clarity on an estimated cost, nor how it would be funded with the event now only seven months away.

Policing costs emerged as a sensitive political issue in September when North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan criticised local organisers for apparently failing to include an element for policing in the budgeting process. The first two stages of next year’s race take place in Yorkshire, with the Grand Départ from Leeds to Harrogate followed the next day with the second stage between York and Sheffield.

It was previously revealed that Mrs Mulligan had written to Gary Verity, chief executive of tourism agency Welcome to Yorkshire, expressing concern about a “lack of clarity” over the likely policing costs. She said she was “very disappointed” the Yorkshire bid had not included “realistic policing costs” and highlighted that North Yorkshire hosts the largest part of the first two stages.

Sports Minister Hugh Robertson also declared it was “pretty extraordinary” the successful Yorkshire bid to host the Grand Depart had not involved working out how event security would be paid for.

However Mrs Mulligan has now said policing the parts of the route that pass through North Yorkshire would be funded from a projected underspend in the current year’s budget. Around £500,000 will be carried forward to 2013-14 to pay for operational costs, including officer time, and all police leave has been cancelled for the weekend of July 5 and 6 when the first two stages take place.

The commissioner said now the money had been found the focus had moved to getting the planning right.

“I’m on record that I think there could have been far more effective consultation with police forces that are tasked with keeping the event safe but the focus now is on doing exactly that and ensuring the event runs smoothly,” she said.

The funding picture is less clear for the other two Yorkshire forces. A £21m budget was agreed for the event, to be administered through a new company – TDF 2014 Ltd led by veteran sports executive Sir Rodney Walker. Of the £11m contributed by local councils, £435,000 was set aside for police planning costs only while none of the £10m provided by the Government is available for policing.

South Yorkshire Police told the Yorkshire Post that West Yorkshire should be contacted for cost information as the neighbouring force was handling police planning across Yorkshire.

West Yorkshire was asked for projected costs for both forces and how they would be funded.

In a statement, assistant chief constable Mark Milsom, who is co-ordinating the police operation, said: “The planning for the Yorkshire Grand Départ is going extremely well, with the police, local authorities and other partners including TDF 2014 Ltd all working closely together.

“The staging of the event is a great honour for Yorkshire and there has been a huge number of people volunteering to support the event next year. The Welcome to Yorkshire website has had over 20,000 volunteers sign up, of which 16,000 are for the Yorkshire legs. This shows what pride Yorkshire people have in the event and what part they will play in making it a success with police and partners.”

West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson added: “This is a huge event bringing together community partners, the public, and many other organisations across West Yorkshire, but particularly Leeds Council as the lead body and within the funding envelope available.

“We’ll be working hard, following on from the success of the Olympic Torch police involvement in the region last year, to make this as successful to ensure it goes ahead in a safe and enjoyable environment.”