I FIND the proclamation that Ascot will bring £50 million to the city utterly implausible (June 14).

This appears to be another pre-emptive PR stunt by the council and its associated quangos. Surely the powers-that-be knew that their policy of blockading central York from racegoers was bound to hit businesses hard.

The city centre has been a ghost town and all the talk by local traders is of a "dead week" where many shut up shop early in the face of empty tills. The so-called economic experts who predict this huge windfall should take a look out of their windows and ask themselves "so, where are all the people?".

I don't dispute that Ascot will help to raise York's national and international profile, but I find it hard to believe there have been any immediate economic benefits. Local traders, particularly hoteliers, have invested huge amounts of time and money in the hope of cashing in on the Ascot phenomenon.

The reality in the city centre is empty shops, hotels and restaurants. It seems local people decided to steer clear of the "overcrowded" city while racegoers were funnelled straight down the A64 after race meetings, hardly getting a glimpse of York at all.

According to the council it is the "repeat" business that will really boost the coffers. So, what impression is the average Ascot visitor getting of York? What will make them want to return?

All they see is a state-of-the-art racecourse, and a sixth form college that looks as if belongs in downtown Baghdad. Who's clever idea was it to demolish the college the week that thousands of cash rich visitors streamed past in their cars?

If Ascot is to return to York next year, I suggest the council drops its obsession with traffic congestion and opens the floodgates.

Mike Brown,



Updated: 09:42 Monday, June 20, 2005