We must not lose sight of the bigger picture

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Doubtless there will be those who react with anger to news that Portsmouth City Council may have to spend up to £1.5m just to bid to have the Tour de France’s Grand Depart in the Portsmouth area in 2019.

They will question the wisdom of spending cash on chasing sporting events, just as they did when the council was first wooing Sir Ben Ainslie to Old Portsmouth and the America’s Cup World Series to Southsea Common and the Solent.

Do they have a point? Well, when you read the story on p11, you can see where they’re coming from.

The city council wants to cut funding to adult day care centres and Linda Carmichael gives an impassioned explanation of how that will destroy her severely disabled son Shaun Simpson’s quality of life.

Shaun has cerebral palsy and relies on help at a day-time support service in Buckland. But staff cutbacks will mean trips and activities having to be axed.

Should the council be looking to spend cash on speculative ventures trying to attract attention and kudos at the same time as squeezing budgets for social care?

We sympathise with people like Mrs Carmichael and her son, who are being affected by spending cuts in the city and the pressure being placed on local authorities by central government.

But we believe that we must not lose sight of the bigger picture here.

The fact is that events of the calibre of the ACWS and Le Tour receive global attention. They also lead to an influx of visitors, which benefits our economy.

Just look what happened in Yorkshire, which hosted the Grand Depart in 2014 and saw millions of pounds generated for local businesses.

So we support council leader Cllr Donna Jones’s plans to visit the start of the 2016 Tour this July in Le Mont-Saint-Michel, Normandy as a fact-finding, relationship-building and lobbying mission.

And if the council can get Whitehall to cover the cost of any bid, all the better.