MILLIONS of pounds of Government money has today been promised to Yorkshire for hosting the opening stages of next year’s Tour de France after an initial bid for public funding was turned down.
Sport and Tourism Minister Hugh Robertson criticised tourism agency Welcome to Yorkshire’s plans for bringing Le Grand Depart to the county - with the route including York - in a letter to Leeds City Council chief executive Tom Riordan.
He said it failed to outline how later stages in Cambridge and London will be organised and the Government did not currently “have confidence” in a budget it believed was “very unsettled”.
However, a delegation of North Yorkshire MPs emerged from a meeting with Culture Secretary Maria Miller today with a £10 million Government commitment to support the Tour.
Welcome to Yorkshire’s funding bid was made to Government quango UK Sport, but Mr Robertson’s letter said it was “difficult if not impossible” for the money to be secured until “detailed information about the delivery of the event as a whole” was provided. He also said an “expensive marketing strategy” would be unnecessary, as the Tour will draw large crowds regardless of publicity.
York Outer MP Julian Sturdy was among the MPs who met Mrs Miller and said: “We’re absolutely delighted the money is secured and there is a wholehearted Government commitment to Yorkshire staging the Tour.
“There are provisos and we must make sure we have a delivery plan which is properly budgeted and which the Government has confidence in, because there have been issues and we can’t brush over that. But this commitment has been secured by MPs going directly to the Culture Secretary and is recognition of how important the Tour is to Yorkshire’s economy.”
Skipton and Ripon MP Julian Smith, who led the delegation, said the funding pledge was “fantastic news”, adding: “I will now be working closely with the Government and Yorkshire’s Tour de France team to ensure we have the structure and governance in place to deliver an outstanding event which showcases Yorkshire to the world.”
Welcome to Yorkshire chief executive Gary Verity said: "Le Grand Depart will be one of the biggest sporting events of 2014 - it will be seen around the world by billions of people and millions more will line the route of the three stages.
"It will showcase Yorkshire and Britain at its best and we are proud to have been able to have secured the third largest sporting event in the world for this county and country. With this Government support, Welcome to Yorkshire can now deliver the grandest of Grand Departs."
Welcome to Yorkshire will tomorrow announce a series of marketing campaigns at the Y13 tourism conference, which is being held at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds.