Tour chief says predicting costs right would have been ‘miracle’

Children on the start line in Leeds last summer marking a year to go until the start of the Tour De France 2014.
Children on the start line in Leeds last summer marking a year to go until the start of the Tour De France 2014.
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The man at the helm of the UK’s stages of the 2014 Tour de France has said it would have been a “miracle” if its event production budget for Yorkshire had been predicted correctly, after a £2m funding gap was found.

Sir Rodney Walker, chair of TDFHUB2014Ltd which has been tasked with overseeing the £27m budget for the delivery of all three UK Tour stages, has however moved to allay fears that the project would come in over budget overall.

His comments come after the Yorkshire Post revealed that costs for the production of the Leeds to Harrogate stage one and York to Sheffield stage two – including arrangements for traffic management, stewards, toilets, barriers, medical support and signage – had been underestimated by more than £2m.

A £4.5m contract for event production is set to be signed with WRG despite being £2.3m more than originally budgeted for.

In the wake of a report that suggested parties who came up with the budget “did not understand the scope of the event”, the Government-funded TDFHUB2014 – formed after the budget was formulated – has released its own readiness report.

“In fairness to those that did produce the original [event production] budget there was nothing to base their planning on because nothing like this has ever been done before,” Sir Rodney said.

“It would have been a miracle, frankly, if all their assessments and judgements will be right.”

The budget report suggested the possibility of seeking funds from TDFHUB2014’s budgeted £2m contingency pot and cash made from savings elsewhere by local authorities and partners.

And yesterday’s readiness report suggests that a process of “value engineering” is underway to help bring costs down in some areas while others have underspent.

Sir Rodney said: “I can’t be certain at this stage that the cost wont be more than the budgeted amount of £2.2m, but it certainly wont be anything like £4.5m.

“In any event we have in excess of £500,000 of identified savings elsewhere in the budget and a totally untouched £2m contingency.”

He added that the events production side of the Yorkshire stages is a working progress.

Talking of the overall delivery of the three Tour stages, he said: “With the savings we have identified, the expectation of reducing tender costs and with the benefit of having a contingency that is as yet untouched, we believe it will be on budget.”

The overall £27m funding pot for the Tour de France’s UK visit, which includes two Yorkshire stages and the Cambridge to London day three stage, is made up of contributions from the Government, TDFHUB2014 and local authorities across Yorkshire and The Humber.