Harrogate must continue bidding for major events, says council chief

Harrogate hosting the Tour de France in 2014
Harrogate hosting the Tour de France in 2014

Harrogate must continue to bid for major events in order to continue attracting visitors to the district, according to the leader of Harrogate Borough Council.

Coun Richard Cooper made the claim as the Cabinet unanimously approved plans for Harrogate to host the 2019 UCI Road World Championships on Wednesday, September 21.

If successful, the bid would see up to 1,000 athletes converge on Harrogate for one of the most prestigious events on the professional cycling calendar.

The championships would mark another high-profile cycling event to be held in Harrogate following the success of the Tour de France Grand Depart in 2014 which raised £19m for the district’s economy.

Coun Cooper said that Harrogate has already proven it can host world-famous events and this ambition would help the district prosper.

He said: “Visitors are the lifeblood of the town and the district. We can’t say that this district will do what is has always done and will continue to prosper.

“We need to have more people coming in to support the economy or we will end up like tired seaside towns. That’s not how we want to turn out.

“We are set to gain £6m worth of media exposure, we will obviously have to pay money for things like clearing up afterwards and providing the conference centre for journalists. We got

£19m from the Tour de France and I think we will get something approaching that figure for this.”

The outcome of the bid will be revealed following the UCI’s annual congress in Doha in October.

Coun Graham Swift, cabinet member for Tourism, Economic Development and Enterprise said the event would bring benefits to the whole district but admitted some residents would be opposed to the plans.

He said: “There will be those who are saying they don’t agree with the policy but I know the majority of people think Harrogate is a lovely place to be during these big events.”