The Isle of Wight’s chances of hosting the UK’s biggest cycling event have moved a step closer, after councillors voted in favour of plans tonight (Thursday).
Cabinet members unanimously approved a proposal for the Island to host the final stage of the Tour of Britain.
It means that final contract negotiations between the Isle of Wight Council and cycling event organiser’s SweetSport Group PLC will now proceed.
The local authority had discussed paying for the event – which is expected to cost around £340,000 – using money from its upcoming 2020/21 budget.
However, with this year’s allocation already “exhibiting signs of financial stress” – with both Adults’ and Children’s Social Care experiencing “significant cost pressures” – the Cabinet member for regeneration and business development said he would instead look at securing the bulk of funds from sponsors.
Councillor Wayne Whittle said:
“I did Ryde Slide. I never had one penny of public money for that. Obviously this isn’t for charity but this is for the Island.
“There are many businesses on the Island that will benefit. We’re going to procure somebody representing us to find those sponsors. But there are many on the Island already.”
Asked exactly how much money would be taken out of the budget, Council leader councillor Dave Stewart said:
“The cost of the Tour of Britain to us is quite small. The figures are in the region on £50,000. There are other figures that have to be paid but we have been assured by a range of sponsors that they will chip in once the confirmation is there.”
During the meeting, councillor Dave Stewart also revealed he had visited Manchester to watch the event – which can attract upwards of 150,000 spectators.
He said organisers have also made a trip to the Island and were “really really impressed”:
“This is going to put the Island on the international scene. Businesses get yourselves ready for this!”
The council predicts the event will bring the equivalent of £1.2 million in free advertising, as well as an estimated direct economic benefit of around £4 million to the Island.
The council says further details of the potential Island stage, including sponsorship opportunities, will be announced in the coming weeks.
The event is set to take place in September 2021.