A COUNCIL has committed to spending more than £200,000 on preparations for the Tour de France Grand Depart this summer – despite also having to make significant savings due to Government funding cuts.

Richmondshire District Council is paying out thousands of pounds to cover stewards, waste management, toilets, safety barriers and signage.

Council leader John Blackie said when he first suggested the event could cost the council in the region of £100,000 some thought it a gross exaggeration.

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But he said so far it has cost around double that figure and he believes it could be even more.

“This is a once in a lifetime event and we all have to accept that,” he said.

“We were never consulted about the bid by Welcome to Yorkshire but we have met all our responsibilities and gone the extra mile because we know what a wonderful welcome the Tour de France will get.”

Cllr Blackie said the authority, which has increased its council tax by 1.97 per cent, did not have much choice in the sums it had to pay out for the event – but he said good financial management meant the council was in a strong position to meet the costs.

“We were imposed from on high which meant we had to do it, but I’m pleased it happened that way.

“All the businesses and communities in the Dales are going to benefit. The event is of huge global importance with more than £3bn people watching – you don’t get that every other day.”

Included in the spending is nearly £37,000 on stewards, barriers and toilets; £5,500 on insurance; £30,000 on waste management; £10,000 on operational delivery, including information leaflets for residents, bin tags and signage for the council; and an initial £77,000 payment to pay for staging costs.

Cllr Blackie said: “The event has generated great community imagination, particularly in rural areas in the Dales.

“There are festivals and full weekend events planned and businesses will benefit from what we hope will be a lasting legacy – indeed there already hoards of cyclists trialling the route and hopefully that enthusiasm will last.”

“With regard to charges we had to make recently, such as for the green waste bins, that was a change we had to make because it was an annual cost we had to save.

“If people want to weigh up green bins on one hand and the Tour on another, my view is the Grand Depart is a once in a lifetime opportunity to be made the most of and celebrated.”