Tour de France could become "poisoned chalice" to rural communities, councillor warns (From The Northern Echo)
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Tour de France could become "poisoned chalice" to Dales communities, councillor warns
THE Tour de France threatens to become a “poisoned chalice” to the rural communities it passes through, a senior councillor has warned.
North Yorkshire county councillor John Blackie says towns and villages in the Yorkshire Dales have been cut off for days while road resurfacing work is carried out in preparation for next year's race.
Diversions had been put in place but the routes have been poorly signposted and unsuitable for some vehicles, it is claimed.
Coun Blackie said a seven-day road closure in Hawes had brought the town to a standstill with businesses losing days of trade.
Police were called to help deal with gridlocked traffic along a diversion, but no officers arrived and locals residents were forced to step in to ease the congestion as tempers frayed on narrow country lanes.
In Muker, businesses were left fuming after contractors erected a handwritten sign advising that the road would be closed for two days.
The sign failed to advise motorists that access to the village was permitted and businesses were open as usual.
Speaking at a North Yorkshire County Council Richmondshire area committee meeting on Wednesday, Coun Blackie said road workers had made a “complete and utter shambles” of the signage.
Further closures are planned in Bainbridge, Bishopdale and Swaledale, and council bosses have been urged to improve supervision of the work.
“If we're not careful the Tour de France will become a poisoned chalice,” Coun Blackie said.
“These are really big road closures to very small communities. I'm disappointed because we could have done a lot better.” Barrie Mason, North Yorkshire County Council assistant director for highways and transportation, said the repairs were being “squeezed in” before the race.
He added that the resurfacing had been brought forward rather than being extra work and communities were benefiting by having the repairs done early.
Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, which was behind the bid to bring the Tour de France to Yorkshire, last night pointed out other benefits of hosting the cycling race.
“We have the world’s biggest sporting event coming to Yorkshire in ten months time and more than half of the route will be in North Yorkshire," he said.
“This will bring millions of pounds into the economy and £100m into Yorkshire as a whole.”
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