Region prepares to be focus of the world’s media amid Le Tour

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As the eyes of the world prepare to gaze upon Yorkshire this summer, preparations are being made for 2,000 global journalists to descend on the county.

Leeds’ status as the host for the start of the 2014 Tour de France Grand Depart is seeing detailed plans drawn up by Leeds City Council chiefs, with the latest report going before an authority scrutiny board today.

The document reveals plans are in place to host the world’s media on MEPC land at Wellington Place in the city centre for the July races, while five grandstands will be erected at The Headrow startline for the stage one send off on July 5 from 11.10am.

Spectator hubs where visitors can view the passing race on big screens will be set up at Scott Hall Playing Fields, Harewood House and in Otley, although the council is still to find out if Government will help fund them.

An excitable crowd is expected to line the length of the 190km route of stage one from Leeds to Harrogate on July 5, with 27,000 people anticipated to gather roadside along the first 1.5km of the route alone.

Council leader Coun Keith Wakefield said: “The exciting plans around the Tour de France Grand Depart in Leeds are progressing well and everything remains on course and on budget.”

It is expected that more will emerge as to whether the council will stick to its own £3.6m forecast for the event once its contracts for services, which are all out to tender, are secured.

Resources for Leeds schools to make the most of the event have also now been sent across the city region, with a programme of 30 projects based around teaching, learning, celebration and legacy developed to include a mini Tour de France for all primary schools at Temple Newsam Park in the coming months.

The report also talks of a site visit made to Leeds in mid-January, which saw Tour organisers Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) look into the possibility of a “parade from the university to the arena”.

Elsewhere in the county, an exclusive sponsorship agreement between ASO and Sheffield Hallam University was announced yesterday.

As the second stage of the Tour sees riders take on a 200km route from York to Sheffield on July 6, the deal will see the university have access to more than 200 volunteering and participatory roles during the event.

At the announcement Professor Philip Jones said: “This event also provides a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness of our academic teaching and research strength in sport and event management.”

The news comes as the Government launches a consultation over its plans to temporarily allow more riders on to the country’s highways than the law currently permits to allow the race to go ahead. Responses should be emailed to joe.finlay@dft.gsi.gov.uk before March 27.

Meanwhile a free Tour telephone line, providing key information around the Yorkshire Grand Depart, has been set up by telecoms firm NGC Networks on behalf of tourism agency Welcome to Yorkshire.

Tourism chief Gary Verity said: “The information line will be vital for people who don’t have access to the internet, it will provide them with up-to-the-minute details on everything they need to know about the Grand Depart.”

The 0845 5072014 hotline will give advice around the Yorkshire routes, volunteering, where to stay, road closures and parking. Visit www.letouryorkshire.com.

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