AROUND two-thirds of people who booked camping at city council site for the Tour de France had to be refunded, early indications show.

The City of York Council's accounts for last financial year, released to The Press, show that out of the £4600 taken from tent and caravan booking for Le Tour's visit to York, around £2,900 had to be refunded because camping was not available.

The accounts include bookings taken until the end of March, three months before the Grand Depart came to town and show camping and caravan bookings had to be cancelled across all three council sites Monk Stray, the Designer Outlet, and Millennium Bridge.

Early plans for camping at Monk Stray prompted widespread concern from nearby residents. In May, the Caravan Club pulled out the operating the campsites for the city council, and in June The Press reported on complaints from people who had had their bookings cancelled at just a few weeks' notice.

While the city council's ruling Labour group has blamed the lack of income on political manoeuvring from opposing councillors, other parties have pointed to failings by the administration and the city council.

Conservative Chris Steward said: "The Tour de France was made brilliant by the people of York and the organisers, but there were so many things the city council and the Labour group made a mess of."

The real test will be how many people come back to York because of the Tour, he added.

But Cllr Sonja Crisp, the cabinet member responsible for theTour de France, said: "Our plans to enhance the TdF visitor experience and achieve meaningful levels of additional income for the council were repeatedly scuppered by political manoeuvring in relation to camping at Monk Stray by the opposition, which has lost the city many thousands of pounds of revenue, final figures of which have not yet been finalised".

Liberal Democrat member for Heworth Without Nigel Ayre spoke out on behalf of many of his constituents worried about the impact of Monk Stray camping.

His party colleagues responded to Cllr Crisp's accusations, and group leader Cllr Keith Aspden said: “It is certainly disappointing, if unsurprising, that the Labour group see the legitimate concerns of local residents as political manoeuvring. If the Labour Cabinet had a credible case for camping on Monk Stray they should have submitted a planning application instead of trying to gain consent without fully consulting nearby residents."

The reluctance of the Labour council to release full details of all income and expenditure, for the Huntington Stadium Grand Departy, is of much greater public interest than blaming residents or other political parties for financial failures, he added.