Wakefield in Tour de Yorkshire U-turn as councillors set to overrule officers

The final stage of this year's Tour de Yorkshire finished in ScarboroughThe final stage of this year's Tour de Yorkshire finished in Scarborough
The final stage of this year's Tour de Yorkshire finished in Scarborough
WAKEFIELD looks set to agree to being a host for the Tour de Yorkshire cycle race next year despite questions being raised over the benefits to the local economy.

Councillors in the city are expected to ignore the recommendation of council officers to reject regional tourism agency Welcome to Yorkshire’s invitation to host a stage start or finish of the three-day race in 2017.

It is estimated hosting the start of a stage would cost £250,000 and bring in an extra £115,000 of spending by visitors while staging a finish would cost £300,000 and generate £25,000 of visitor spending.

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Both cases would also involve improvements to roads in the city for the race likely to cost around £340,000.

Wakefield hosted the start of the final stage in the inaugural 2015 race but had received extra funding to help meet the cost which would not be available in 2017.

A report prepared by council officers ahead of a meeting next week recommends turning down the chance to host a stage next year but it is understood councillors are likely to overule them and press ahead with the event.

Coun Les Shaw, cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport at Wakefield Council said: “Thousands of people in the district have enjoyed being part of the Tour de Yorkshire this year.

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“We didn’t host a start or finish this year but many people got involved and there was a great turn out.

“We’ll be talking at the meeting about the costs of funding a start and finish, as the funding we received for hosting a start in 2015 wouldn’t be available to us again next year.

“And we’ll need to look at it in terms of the benefits and how it fits with the other events we hold in the district.”

The report written ahead of next week’s cabinet meeting says: “Although the city centre start in 2015 did attract a large number of visitors it didn’t have the same economic impact as some of the Council’s larger major events, such as the Festival of Food Drink and Rhubarb, which have substantially lower delivery costs.

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“Even though Wakefield did not hosting a start or finish for the 2016 race the route is travelling through a substantial area of the district allowing residents to celebrate by lining the route.

“Even if the district didn’t host a start or finish in 2017 there is the possibility that the route would still travel through the area.”

Tour de Yorkshire is part of the legacy of Yorkshire’s hosting of the start of the Tour de France in 2014.

The race is organised by Welcome to Yorkshire in partnership with Amaury Sports Organisation which stages the Tour de France.

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More than 1m people were estimated to have watched this year’s running of the race which passed through Wakefield but did not stop in the city.

The 2015 race was reported to have generated £50m for the region’s economy.

Welcome to Yorkshire has been lobbying for the race to be extended into a fourth day with chief executive Gary Verity estimating the move would add a further £10m to the economic benefits it generates.