...and why visitor centre switch plan is a non-starter
NOW that the Tour de France has left Britain after one of the most memorable weekends in living memory, thoughts turn to what the long-term impact of the Grand Départ will be.
It’s interesting to note, for instance, what Sir Martin Sorrell, one of the world’s brightest lights in the field of advertising, makes of the way Leeds and Yorkshire welcomed – and celebrated – the iconic race.
He talks of the power of global events on this scale to change “images and perceptions” of places.
Certainly the response from some quarters when Leeds was chosen as the host city was based too much on well-worn stereotype and cliché for comfort.
It was the same for much of the national media coverage in advance of the race – “Does Yorkshire have many cyclists then?” asked Sky News presenter Kay Burley in one interview, failing to hide her scepticism over the decision to bring the race here.
The scenes on Saturday as hundreds of thousands of people lined the roads from the Town Hall to Harewood House, Otley and beyond showed such doubts were woefully misplaced.
From the glittering team presentation at the Leeds Arena onwards, the city showed it has the ability to host events of this calibre – and that its people will get behind them. Now the challenge is to build on this momentum, to continue to be bold and to carry on thinking big. That would be a fitting legacy.
Visitor centre switch plan is a non-starter
HOPES are high that the success of the Grand Départ will spark a significant surge in visitors to Leeds.
So it seems odd that Leeds City Council decides now would be a good time to move the city’s visitor centre from the rail station to a desk beneath the art gallery.
It’s no secret that the authority is desperate for ways to save money in the wake of the swingeing budget cuts enforced by central government.
But this one would surely be a false economy.
The Tour de France has raised the city’s profile at home and abroad. For those who are inspired to come here, their natural first port of call needs to be in a prominent location, not tucked away out of sight.