“Good progress but more to do” says council leader as Le Tour gets closer

The Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Keith Wakefield says “good progress has been made, but there is more to do” as the city prepares to host the start of this year’s Tour de France.

A progress report on work being done in the city in the build-up to Leeds hosting the Grand Départ of the world’s largest annual sporting event has been released today which will be discussed by the council’s executive board at Civic Hall next week (Wednesday 2 April).

The report builds on the previous executive board report issued in December, giving an overview on the work being carried out across key areas as the city gets ready to host the start of the world’s biggest cycle race on Saturday 5 July.

The report explains how the city dressing plan is being delivered with the first phase seeing official Grand Départ banners appear on lampposts at City Square and from the startline on Victoria Gardens along the route down The Headrow and at Eastgate. More visual promotions will be carried out in the weeks to come, culminating in a series of events to animate the city centre in the week leading up to the race.

Leeds City Council has also created its own ‘Leeds: Cycling Starts Here’ brand to promote the event and broader cycling-related events and activities in the city in the years to come.

In terms of communicating the impact of the Tour on residents and businesses in Leeds, more than 8,000 letters were sent to those directly affected on the route in February when initial road closure information was revealed. A new dedicated Grand Départ section of Leeds City Council’s website has also been created at www.leeds.gov.uk/granddepartleeds, while all residents are encouraged to sign up to granddepartleeds@leeds.gov.uk to find out all the latest information for Leeds.

A series of business-focused workshops run in partnership with Welcome to Yorkshire have been carried out and well attended in February and March, with more being planned across the city. A further focus to maximise the economic impact of the race will see the Grand Départ International Business Festival take place at The Carriageworks from 2-4 July. Organised by Leeds City Council working with UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) and Leeds & Partners, the festival aims to bring international trade and investment opportunities to Leeds capitalising on the unique global spotlight the Tour de France provides.

Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Keith Wakefield said:

“People can see when they walk around the city centre from the banners and other indications that the Tour de France is now only just over 100 days away. As this report shows a lot of good progress has been made but there is more to do as we get ready to welcome the world on July 5.

“A key focus for us remains on ensuring everyone knows what will be happening in terms of road closures and event details on the race weekend, so I would urge everyone to sign up to granddepartleeds@leeds.gov.uk to make sure you don’t miss out on finding out what is going on around this incredible and historic event for our city.”

Other updates in the report include details of the new park and ride scheme at Elland Road to be used as part of the traffic-management plan for the event, while issues around cycle parking and train services are currently being discussed.

Arts and culture in Leeds will also be given a strong focus as the city plays a prominent role in the 100-day Yorkshire Festival 2014 leading up to race day. Leeds was successful in securing two major arts submissions for the festival which is being organised by Welcome to Yorkshire and sponsored by Yorkshire Water, with Leeds-own internationally-renowned sculptor Thomas Houseago producing a specially-commissioned piece to go on display outside Leeds Art Gallery near the startline.

The other major submission sees Phoenix Dance Theatre working with Scottish public arts charity NVA in partnership with Sustrans to create ‘Ghost Peloton’, an outdoor light spectacle to be performed on the former Tetley’s Brewery site.

These will be supported by other events, including performances by Opera North, the story of Morley’s champion cyclist Beryl Burton being told by Maxine Peake at West Yorkshire Playhouse and exhibitions at Harewood House and Leeds City Museum, where ‘Bicyclism’ will detail the social history of cycling in Leeds.

Maximising the legacy of Le Tour is also a priority, with Leeds examining how best to use the race to develop its cycling offer from sporting and health perspectives, while more than 30 projects will be taking place in Leeds schools related to the Tour de France including the Leeds Schools Cycle Challenge which will be held at Temple Newsam Park.

Working with TdFHUB2014 Ltd, the government company overseeing planning and delivery of the Grand Départ, Leeds City Council is carrying out a series of safety and resilience exercises to prepare for race day.

The council and TdFHUB2014 Ltd are also managing the overall budget for the Grand Départ, which includes the central event management element which was the subject of media scrutiny last week as it is projected to cost £2.3million more than was originally estimated.

With the event expected to generate more than £100m of economic benefit, Leeds is making a contribution of £3.6m towards the £21m budget for stages one and two.

Councillor Wakefield added:

“It is important to reassure people that the plans are coming along very well and we are on track. As with any event of such a massive scale there will always be budget pressures and challenges but the team is fully confident this event will be delivered within the overall budget. Hosting the Tour de France is going to be a fantastic once-in-a-lifetime event for Leeds and Yorkshire, so everyone can start really getting excited now as we move closer and closer to the big day.”

For more information on the Tour de France in Leeds visit www.leeds.gov.uk/leedsgranddepart or to sign up for alerts email granddepartleeds@leeds.gov.uk

Notes to editors:

In 2014, the Tour de France returns to the UK for three stages. The Yorkshire Grand Départ comprises two stages - Leeds to Harrogate and York to Sheffield - before the Tour moves south for a third stage from Cambridge to London.

The Tour de France is expected to generate at least £100m into the UK economy.

For the latest news on the Grand Depart visit www.letouryorkshire.com


For media enquiries please contact:

Roger Boyde,

Leeds City Council press office,

Email: roger.boyde@leeds.gov.uk