Cost of hosting Women’s Tour race in Northamptonshire revealed

Womens Tour 2018 - Rushden NNL-180614-132149009
Womens Tour 2018 - Rushden NNL-180614-132149009

The cost to the Northamptonshire taxpayer of hosting part of the Women’s Tour has been revealed.

Northamptonshire County County, East Northants Council and Daventry District Council each paid £40,000 towards the event which saw the world’s best female cyclists race through the country from Rushden to Daventry.

NCC, which is in financial dire straits and is having to shave millions off its services including winter gritting costs and grants to advice services, said it will not be funding the event next year and will instead ‘rotate our financial support via other community events in 2019 and beyond’.

A spokesman for the authority said: “The county council, alongside Daventry District Council, East Northamptonshire District Council and Rushden Town Council sponsored the Women’s Tour in the county this year.

“This was the fifth time the elite sporting event has been hosted in Northamptonshire.

“The county council’s contribution of £40,000 came from the Public Health Grant.

“It came from this ring-fenced grant as the event – and events like it – are recognised as key ways to encourage more people to take up physical exercise and a more healthier lifestyle.

“Independent evaluation of this year’s event shows that of the 68,000 people who watched the event almost 60 per cent said it had inspired them to cycle more often.

“In addition to this the event generated £1.8m for the local economy with spectators, cyclists and media personnel spending on accommodation, food, drink and merchandise, while the event also helped promote the county to potential tourists with 279,000 watching the race on ITV4.”

An additional £24,000 was also paid in VAT but the authority says it can reclaim this cost.

Northamptonshire county councillor Chris Stanbra said: “This seems like quite a lot of money to me and I would ask what value the county council is getting out of it.

“We hear of the tourism benefits in terms of the number of people staying in hotels but what is the net benefit?

“The cyclists are here and then they are gone.”

It has been announced by organisers today (Sept 21) that an extra day will be added to the tour next year to make it a six-day event.

The 2018 race was won by Coryn Rivera from Team Sunweb and featured stages in Suffolk, Northamptonshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire before finishing on the north Wales coast in Colwyn Bay.

Sarah Ward, Local Democracy Reporting Service