Craven District Council has agreed to set aside up to £100,000 to cover the costs of being the start location for next year's Tour de Yorkshire.
The decision was taken by the council's Chief Executive Paul Shevlin under 'urgency powers' because all meetings of the council are currently cancelled because of Covid.
We're told that Mr Shevlin had a 'lengthy debate' with councillors on the topic, and a decision was made to underwrite a possible event in Skipton up to a maximum sum of £100,000 whilst Welcome to Yorkshire seeks corporate sponsorship.
Funding already previously agreed for the cancelled 2020 race will be used. The council says there is remaining budget originally approved in 2019, monies set aside from the allocated North and West Yorkshire Business Rates Pool for TdY from 2019/20, and funding originally committed by YDNPA as long as the race route take in large parts of the Yorkshire Dales.
Craven District Council's Chief Executive Paul Shevlin said: “Before making the decision I had a consultation meeting with the Councillors who would have sat on Policy Committee due to be held this week. It was a long meeting (2.5 hours) and provoked a lengthy and thought-provoking debate including a candid presentation from James Mason at Welcome to Yorkshire.
"I think everyone agreed it was good to be able to have the time to focus on this one issue as opposed to being one item of a lengthy policy agenda. During the course of the meeting members gave me a very clear steer as to what their decision would have been had the report been taken to Policy Committee. A large majority supported the event.”
Leader of Craven District Council Cllr Richard Foster said “This was a difficult decision to take. We know that the Tour de Yorkshire has divided opinion across the district, but the majority of members were clear that the race needed to be supported because of the long-term benefits it brings.
This isn’t just about supporting the race on the day; it is about making an economic investment in our area. The coverage showcases our beautiful countryside and towns. Tourism is incredibly important to Craven and although the domestic market is strong this year we need to be looking ahead when we will be competing again with overseas locations and trying to attract international travellers. We know the event brings in new
visitors and even attracts people to come and make their home here.
"The Yorkshire festival planned to run in the build up to the race will be a great marketing opportunity especially for the newly refurbished Skipton Town Hall. Whenever the race passes through there is always great sense of community and the race will be part of our post Covid recovery in bringing communities back together again.”
Welcome to Yorkshire is planning a county wide ‘Festival of Yorkshire’ to take place in the weeks before the race in 2022. The Tour de Yorkshire will be the ‘headline act’ in a celebration of the whole county highlighting local food and drink, arts, culture, heritage, and music. It will be the first and largest non-ticketed mass participation event of its kind in the UK since the pandemic in 2020.