A TOP politician has given ‘in principle’ support to Portsmouth’s bid to host the first stage of the Tour de France.
John Whittingdale, secretary of state for culture, media and sport, met Portsmouth City Council leader Councillor Donna Jones and city MPs Flick Drummond and Penny Mordaunt to discuss the plan, which, if successful, would see the world’s greatest cycle race begin here in 2019.
Mrs Drummond said the meeting, which took place at the Houses of Parliament, was encouraging and Mr Whittingdale supported the principle of Portsmouth’s bid.
‘He was very impressed and supportive,’ she said.
‘I think his only concern was the business plan.
‘We’ve just to tidy it up a bit and then I will put the case to the chancellor. We’ve got to make sure that the business case is watertight.’
We’ve got to make sure that the business case is watertightFlick Drummond
Cllr Jones said Mr Whittingdale liked the effort the council had made to work with le Tour’s organisers and owners, the Amaury Sport Organisation (Aso).
She said: ‘The secretary of state was impressed with our engagement with Aso, and with Brittany Ferries, which could be a potential sponsor and carrier.
‘With his support we will now be working on developing the costings behind it to present to the chancellor.’
Portsmouth will need to secure government cash in order for the bid to go ahead.
Cllr Jones said Portsmouth would receive a £100m boost to its economy if it was picked to host the race’s Grand Départ, which is regularly held outside France.
Mrs Drummond said the tour would be a massive boost for the city. She said: ‘We’ve already got the America’s Cup and if we can have le Tour as well, that would really put Portsmouth on the map.’