THE people of Portsmouth are being urged to step up their passion for cycling in an effort to persuade Whitehall to support the city’s hopes of staging the Tour de France.
Portsmouth South MP Flick Drummond is today calling on the region to write to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport outlining why it must award the city £2m so it can put forward a bid to host the Grand Depart in 2019.
If the people write in, that would be extremely helpful. I will be hoping to meet the secretary of state within the next couple of weeks to see what her initial reaction is.Portsmouth South MP Flick Drummond
It comes after Portsmouth City Council filed a 32-page business dossier to culture secretary Karen Bradley putting forward the case for funding – and what putting on Le Tour would mean for the city and the UK.
Mrs Drummond said: ‘If the people write in, that would be extremely helpful.
‘I will be hoping to meet the secretary of state within the next couple of weeks to see what her initial reaction is.
‘And then I will keep the council in touch with what is going on.
‘I have always said, Portsmouth should be the cycling capital of the UK.
‘We need to spend more money on safer cycling routes.
‘If we want to get people out on their bikes, we have to make it’s safe for them.
‘If the Tour de France can help make that happen, that would be a good thing.’
Asked whether there is money available to improve cycling safety in Portsmouth, Mrs Drummond said there were ‘pots of money around’ – and hopes to get a commitment from ministers following the recent shake-up in government whether they will help.
Meanwhile, Portsmouth Tory culture boss, Councillor Linda Symes, who watched the beginning of the 2016 Le Tour in Le Mont-Saint-Michel, Normandy, in July, says she plans to visit next year’s Grand Depart as well to get a better grasp of what Portsmouth needs to do to stage the spectacle.
The business case put to the government proposes a week-long programme of events in the run-up to the Portsmouth Grand Depart from Monday, July 1.
It includes race training days and a ‘bike festival’ celebrating the world of cycling.
Stage One of the Grand Depart would happen on the Sunday along a route between Portsmouth and Goodwood that has yet to be agreed.
Riders would then be transferred over to Caen – the French city twinned with Portsmouth – for Stage Two of Le Tour.
That leg of the race would see riders take to the road along the Normandy beaches, to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day.