999 staff leave ban as scale of Tour de France plans revealed

Emergency service chiefs at a Tour de France briefing at West Yorkshire Police's Carr Gate training facility, in Wakefield. Picture by Simon Hulme
Emergency service chiefs at a Tour de France briefing at West Yorkshire Police's Carr Gate training facility, in Wakefield. Picture by Simon Hulme
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Yorkshire’s 999 staff have been told they cannot take leave during the visit of the Tour de France, as the scale of emergency service planning is revealed.

All leave has been cancelled or heavily restricted for police, ambulance and fire service staff across the county for the July 5 and 6 spectacle, as the region prepares to deal with an expected influx of 3million visitors.

Hundreds of police officers will join up to 4,000 accredited stewards and a portion of the 12,000 volunteer Tour Makers for each of the two Yorkshire stages, while ambulance staff could collectively work up to 7,000hours and West Yorkshire’s 54-strong fleet of fire engines will be utilised to make sure the landmark event runs smoothly.

Emergency services will be centrally controlled from police premises in Wakefield, while local control rooms will be set up in key Tour locations such as Leeds.

Members of the West Yorkshire Resilience Forum, who are working with local authorities and the Government firm TDFHUB2014 Ltd, have told the YEP of their plans following months of detailed discussion.

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Milsom, who is coordinating the regional police operation, said: “We are confident enough in what we do but there’s still the unexpected over what we do. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t be a fantastic celebration event.”

Planning started around a year ago with members of local authorities and the emergency services travelling to the 2013 Grand Depart in Corsica, and monthly command meetings have been taking place ever since.

The emergency services’ joint plans are loosely based on the way forces worked together to host the Olympic torch relay in 2012.

Mr Milsom, who hinted that the cost of policing the Tour’s Yorkshire visit will exceed its original budget, said: “It never has been about money and resources. We sent hundreds of staff down to the Olympic Games in 2012 and this for us is like the Yorkshire Olympics, to sell the county and its iconic locations.”

Ian Walton, associate director of resilience at Yorkshire Ambulance Service, explained that around 60 emergency access points have been agreed with Tour organisers along the routes in case of emergency, while ambulance service staff are working with the TDFHUB2014 Ltd’s own medical teams and will be deployed in high risk areas themselves over the two days. It is also working with the NHS, which is identifying vulnerable patients along the route and amending appointments.

He added: “From a health perspective nearer the time there will be lots of information to come out about health services and GPs practices.”

The YEP understands that the Yorkshire Air Ambulance is also making extra provision for the Tour weekend, while regional fire service staff are preparing to be deployed strategically along the route.

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