With just six months to go before Le Tour comes to Craven, planning for the world’s largest sporting event has begun in earnest.
Landowners and farmers have been approached about the use of their land for car parking and camping, an original task group has been split into two, and councillors are looking at bringing in event managers to Skipton.
Last week, Craven district councillors were shown a police DVD showing footage of last year’s Le Tour which gave an idea of the scale of crowds.
Figures also shown to the council’s audit and governance committee revealed two million spectators were expected over the two days in early July and it would take a whole hour for the racing cyclists, support teams and media to pass a single point.
Communications manager Sharon Hudson reassured members that the council was working with neighbouring authorities and its partners and everyone knew what was expected of them.
She added there was even a contingency plan if it rained – although she did point out it might be wise to pray for fine weather.
So far, there are several large-scale events being independently planned over the weekend of Le Tour Grand Depart, including the Rapha Tempest Festival at Broughton Hall and VeloFest at Kilnsey.
Mrs Hudson said there were also events being planned at Bolton Abbey and Grassington, and Kidstones Camping had been specially set up near Buckden to make the most of the hill climbs.
An advice evening for businesses wanting to make the most of Le Tour was held in November and there are two more planned, in Settle on Wednesday and an open meeting with Skipton Chamber of Trade on Tuesday, January 28.
She said the community task team had now been divided into two. The safety and resilience group would cover the event through Craven, working with partner agencies, and the Tour de France Safety Advisory Group would examine and advise on public safety for all big events planned to coincide with Le Tour.
She said officers were talking to 40 landowners across Craven and so far an additional 28,000 parking spaces had been identified and an extra 4,000 camping places.
In Skipton, additional funding had been promised by Skipton Business Improvement District (BID), but that depended on business ratepayers voting this month for the BID to continue for another five-year term.
There were also plans to outsource management of the planned spectator hub in Skipton to a management team.
“Skipton Town Council, who we are working with, are supportive of this approach,” she said.
“They have a great track record of delivering events for the town but given the hub will operate over two sites we have to ensure it is resourced properly.”
Dave Parker, chief officer of Skipton Town Council, said: “Operating the two locations within the town centre is a huge challenge logistically, given the numbers we expect to attend, and we simply don’t have the resources between us to cover both the High Street and Coach Street sites.
“The town council’s team will also need to cover the alternative market day on the Sunday, with its associated activities. The approach we’ve agreed with Craven Council makes sense.”