Tour de France plan will only work if government provides '˜all money necessary'

PORTSMOUTH's desire to hold the Tour de France will be made a reality only if the government coughs up all of the finances needed.

That’s the clear message from city council leader Donna Jones in response to concerns that the authority would look to plough millions of pounds into drawing up a bid and hosting the opening leg of the spectacle.

The Tory councillor says there is no plan to use public money when budgets have had to be slashed back so much in recent months.

But Cllr Jones believes hosting the Tour would provide a massive economic boost to the Portsmouth region and the rest of the UK – which is why she feels it is so important the government provides all the money necessary to make it happen.

And she is confident there is cash available in Whitehall – despite the amount being made available for local councils being in decline.

As reported, drawing up a bid to Tour de France bosses could cost £1.5m, and hosting the attraction could see the bill rise to £30m.

Cllr Jones said: ‘The success of a Tour de France bid for the UK, and to be established in Portsmouth and the Solent area, would be wholly dependent on government support. We know how successful the Grand Depart was in Yorkshire in 2014, and the economic benefit to the UK of hosting a Grand Depart is extensive.

‘It’s important for the UK’s tourism and industry and puts the UK on the international stage for positive reasons.

‘That’s why the government has money to provide for such schemes, and so I am working with the MP for Portsmouth South, Flick Drummond, who has already spoken to the minister responsible for cycling, to see if there is money for us to build a bid.’

Meanwhile, more MPs have committed their support.

Fareham MP Suella Fernandes said: ‘I’m very supportive of this bid – bringing the Grand Depart to Portsmouth would be fantastic and have benefits for the whole area.

‘I’ll be talking to Flick, Penny (Mordaunt) and other colleagues to discuss what we can do together to help make it a reality.’

Most of the money for the bid would need to go on consultants who would draw up a huge plan detailing exactly how the city would host the race and why it would be a success.

A plan would need to be worked out for all aspects of the 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.