A SPECTATOR hub for Tour de France crowds will be set up on a York stray - but council chiefs have been blocked from holding any other events there.

City of York Council wanted permission to use Monk Stray, in Heworth Without, for "family events" on up to 14 days a year, leading to local residents claiming the authority was using the opening stages of the world-famous cycle race as a "Trojan horse" for more festivals.

Almost 300 letters calling for the plans to be dropped or amended were lodged with the council, whose own licensing panel yesterday said the Tour hub can go ahead on July 6 but refused to grant a licence for anything else.

Opponents said the council's application could mean the stray staging events almost every weekend during the summer, disrupting their lives through noise, traffic, drinking, anti-social behaviour and parking problems.

The panel said alcohol can be sold until 8pm on July 6 - the day the Tour's Grand Depart comes to York - rather than 11pm as the council wanted, and litter must be cleared not just from the stray but also nearby streets afterwards. Its members - Couns Ian Gillies, Neil McIlveen and Tony Richardson - were applauded by dozens of residents following the decision.

Gill Cooper, the council's head of culture and tourism, said there were currently no firm plans for events on the stray other than the spectator hub, but applying for a permanent licence would save money if any were held in the future. Proposals for "late-night refreshment" to be served until 5am were withdrawn before the meeting.

"A permanent licence would bring Monk Stray into line with other open spaces in York, and its use would be for family events and during big events in the city," she said.

"West Bank Park, Hull Road Park, Tower Gardens, Rowntree Park and Rawcliffe Country Park all have residential areas close by and, where we have 14-day licences for these open spaces, we don't use them to that level."

Heworth Without councillor Nigel Ayre said there was "a calamitous failure" to consult residents properly, saying: "We spend a lot of time talking about the Tour de France, but this application isn't about the Tour, it's about a licence for other events for up to 10,000 people in a residential area where access is limited and parking is non-existent."

York Outer MP Julian Sturdy said: "A permanent licence may suit the council's agenda, but it completely ignores the local community, and the impression given by the way the council has conducted proceedings is that this is a Trojan horse for further events."

David Mothersdale, who lives near the stray, claimed at the meeting that the council was "using a great event like the Tour de France to obtain a licence by stealth."