Is Yorkshire's price for Le Tour too high?

Tour de France cyclists
Image caption The Tour de France is expected to generate an extra £100m for Yorkshire's economy

An estimated £6.5m will be spent by Yorkshire councils when the Tour de France weaves its way through the region in July 2014, the BBC has learned.

The news comes on the day full details of the route the Tour will take have been revealed.

Because the region is hosting two out of the three stages of the race held in England, the figure amounts to two-thirds of the estimated £10m "Le Tour" will cost overall, before it visits London and the east of England.

The BBC understands Leeds City Council has already paid a £4m "staging fee" to race organisers ASO, with other councils in Yorkshire pledging to meet just over half that cost.

Meanwhile, the day-to-day costs of hosting two stages of the Tour in Yorkshire are expected to cost local authorities an additional £2.5m, the BBC understands.

Attract fans

Big financial rewards are, however, being promised to all those parts of Yorkshire set to host the Tour, with the boost to the region's economy estimated to be over £100m.

While the Tour teams themselves are expected to be based in Yorkshire for around five days, some 3m fans of the prestigious race are also expected to make their way to the region.

These figures may sound surprising, but in 2007 - the last time the Tour de France came to Britain - it is estimated the economy in the South East received a cash injection to the tune of £88m.

It is that massive boost which councils in Yorkshire hope at least to match, if not to outdo, in July 2014 - but that will still come at a price.

Although Leeds council has already paid £4m upfront to secure the deal for Yorkshire to host the Tour, the BBC understands that a total of £2.4m of that will be reimbursed by councils across the region who are involved in hosting the Tour.

But, with local authorities everywhere facing the challenge of making across-the-board cuts to services, will the cost of the Tour prove too hard to take for Yorkshire's cash-strapped council tax payers?

Flick Rea, chair of the Local Government Association's Culture, Tourism and Sport Board, said the money spent on hosting the tour would be an investment in local communities.

'Huge boost'

"The Tour de France is one of the biggest sporting events in the world, will attract hundreds of thousands of spectators to our shores and is expected to generate more than £100 million for local economies," she said.

"It will provide a huge boost to tourism and hospitality, is a great opportunity to promote local business and will hopefully inspire people to get involved in cycling which brings with it many health, social and transport benefits for our communities."

But pressure group the Taxpayers' Alliance (TPA) said while many people would be rightly proud to welcome the Tour de France to Yorkshire, they would be left wondering why so much council tax was needed to make it happen.

TPA chief executive Matthew Sinclair said: "Given the potential benefit to the local economy of the event it should not have struggled to attract private investment.

"Council bosses must stop pretending that they know best how to spend other people's money, especially when their focus should be on how best to save it."

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