Tour de France visit ‘boosted Yorkshire economy by £150million’

Chris Froome at the start of the first stage of the Tour de France in Leeds. Picture by Bruce Rollinson

Chris Froome at the start of the first stage of the Tour de France in Leeds. Picture by Bruce Rollinson

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The Tour de France Grand Depart’s economic impact on the county has been underestimated by £50million, a leading Tour organiser has revealed.

Sir Rodney Walker, who was chair of the now-disbanded Government firm TDFHUB2014 Ltd, claimed early reports indicate Le Tour has boosted the county’s economy by £150m, surpassing the original £100m estimate.

Sir Rodney Walker. Picture by Scott Merrylees.

Sir Rodney Walker. Picture by Scott Merrylees.

Ahead of the release of TDFHUB2014’s final report later this year, the 71-year-old revealed the information when speaking for the first time publicly about the impact of the Grand Depart at an event held by Barclays and Armstrong Watson at The Leeds Club, in Albion Place, today.

Sir Rodney also revealed that he believes a number of Yorkshire local authorities overspent on delivering the spectacle, although the overall staging of the race is likely to come in more or less on budget at around £27m.

The event, dubbed ‘the grandest ever Grand Depart’, brought 2.8m people to the streets of Yorkshire for the Leeds to Harrogate and York to Sheffield races on July 5 and 6 before Le Tour rode from Cambridge to London.

“We really genuinely thought the inward investment into Yorkshire justified the outlay,” Sir Rodney said. “The early research we have done has indicated we underestimated by a factor of 50 per cent the economic impact. I’m being told it’s near £150m.”

He said he feels the fact the event is generating “far more inward investment” than predicted justifies the public spending.

The news may come as no surprise to many after the race captured the imagination of a global TV audience and led to Yorkshire hotels and B&Bs reporting a surge in bookings, while businesses cashed in on the county’s boost in profile.

The budget for the Grand Depart was £27m, which was made up of £11m from Yorkshire local authorities, £6m from Transport for London and £10million of Government funds controlled by Sir Rodney’s TDFHUB2014.

Speculating about the final spend, Sir Rodney revealed he initially feared the Government had under committed by as much as £2m, but in the end TDFHUB2014 underspent its £10m allocation by around £750,000.

“I do know a lot of the local authorities overspent but I have a letter from the Government saying we could give the money back to the local authorities to offset what they overspent,” he said.

“My guess and instincts are that overall it wouldn’t be far away from coming in on its original budget.”

THE FINAL REPORT IS DUE

With the official assessment of the economic impact of the Tour’s visit still to come, organisers are already praising the event’s impact.

Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: “We’re absolutely delighted the event brought so much money to the county to help businesses big and small, and there are benefits for the county which are impossible to measure – the profile of Yorkshire around the world has never been higher.”

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