WE’ve got 12 months left to prove why Portsmouth would be the perfect host for the opening leg of the Tour de France.
City officials are eager to draw up a government-funded bid to stage the elite cycling spectacle in 2019.
We need the money as soon as possible so that the government gives us a five to six month window to get a bid in.Councillor Donna Jones, leader of Portsmouth City Council
And they say event bosses will be making a decision early next year over where the Grand Depart of the Le Tour will be going in the year Portsmouth hopes to stage the attraction.
In the meantime, Tory council leader Donna Jones says she plans to make a trip to the Treasury to give the city’s aspiration the ‘hard sell’ in the hope it will award Portsmouth the £2m it needs to put forward an official application.
And she’s eager to ensure Portsmouth’s MPs stay on board with the vision and continue piling on the pressure in Whitehall for financial support.
Cllr Jones said: ‘I’m working with the city’s MPs to secure a date to meet the Treasury to pursue our businesses case as to why the government should support Portsmouth in assisting us with the funds to build the bid for the Tour de France 2019.
‘This is a unique and hugely exciting opportunity for the city of Portsmouth to be on the international stage and is a key milestone in the regeneration of the city over the next decade.
‘ASO, the company that runs the Tour de France, works two years ahead, so it will be deciding next year where the Tour de France will go in 2019.
‘That’s why we have got a limited period of time to get to where we want to be.
‘We need the money as soon as possible so that the government gives us a five to six-month window to get a bid in.’
A plan would need to be worked out for all aspects of Le Tour, such as the road layout, road safety, traffic management plans, police, health, hotel operators, parking, park-and-ride provisions, potential advertising space for sponsors and other companies, while also working with Visit England and VisitBritain.
Cllr Jones and Portsmouth’s MPs Flick Drummond and Penny Mordaunt have already met culture secretary John Whittingdale to discuss the city’s campaign.
Portsmouth is keen to host Le Tour in 2019 as it’s the same year as the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
It is hoped Tour bosses will see the attraction of elite cyclists riding from the city to the South Downs before heading to the beaches of Normandy where troops – many of whom were from this area – landed. Backing has already been given by neighbouring councils as well as West Sussex.
Leaders are also hoping Tour general director Christian Prudhomme will take up the invitation of visiting the region this summer.