PORTSMOUTH’s dream to stage the Tour de France is hanging by a thread after the government revealed it has no record of ever receiving a business case for funding to stage the elite spectacle.
The News can reveal the dossier compiled by civic leaders and cycling experts urging the Department for Culture, Media & Sport to cough up £2m to help fund bid to host the Grand Depart in 2019 has gone missing.
Someone really needs to get a grip of this, because it looks as if Portsmouth has been made to look stupid.Former council leader, Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson
And critics say the chances of being selected to stage the world’s greatest cycling race in the same year as the 75th anniversary of D-Day are very unlikely – and the fiasco makes Portsmouth ‘look stupid’.
Portsmouth Lib Dem leader and former council boss, Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, said: ‘It’s almost beyond belief that this seems to be going on. It cost millions in Yorkshire to put this on and it was expected locally to find that money.
‘Someone needs to get a grip of this, because it looks as if Portsmouth has been made to look stupid.’
The package, which sold Portsmouth’s achievements and boasted about the prospect of the city and French twin Caen reaping up to £100m of benefits, was produced by the council along with a number of sport and cycling experts.
The authority gave the 32-page file to Portsmouth South MP Flick Drummond on the basis she would present it to Whitehall culture officials so they could make a decision whether to award Portsmouth the money.
But the DCMS has revealed it has never received any business case requesting for funds to be released.
And the controversy deepens as Mrs Drummond insists she did present the file to the department – but has not had time to meet culture secretary Karen Bradley to lobby for support.
Cllr Vernon-Jackson said: ‘If the council has produced something, and the MP has given it in, but the relevant government department can’t find it, it’s clearly a shambles.’
Mrs Drummond said: ‘It went into the department before the conference recess in September and I haven’t had time to meet up with the secretary of state.’
A government spokesman confirmed ‘Portsmouth has not sent a business case to us here at the DCMS.’
COMMENT n PAGE 18
HOST FOR 2019 GRAND DEPART ‘NOT YET CHOSEN’
THE organisers of the Tour de France have picked who will host the 2019 Grand Depart – but say they are aware of British Cycling’s criticism of Portsmouth’s aspirations.
It comes after the cycling body said it would be ‘impossible’ for the city to get funding in time. An ASO spokesman said: ‘Portsmouth is very interested in hosting the 2019 Tour de France Grand Depart, but I don’t know how the candidacy is going since British Cycling seems to not push behind it. There are several other candidates, in France or in another countries but nothing is decided yet.’ A decision will be made in 2017.