SKIPTON could be a host tow n for next year’s Tour de Yorkshire cycle race - at a cost of up to £180,000 of public money.

Last week, Craven District Council’s Policy Committee approved the putting forward of Skipton as a potential host town for a stage of next year’s event, which is due to take place over four days in April.

If successful, the international cycling race could take in the Three Peaks area of the Yorkshire Dales National Park for the first time.

If approved by the full council at its meeting in April, it will mean the authority putting aside £180,000 from its new homes bonus reserve money to underwrite the total costs of the event before it puts itself forward as a host town contender.

But, Councillor Philip Barrett, who voted against the idea at last week’s Policy meeting, said Craven had spent enough on cycling events.

“I feel strongly that to spend yet more funding on grandiose cycling events to the tune of £180,000 of new homes bonus reserves is unjustifiable particularly in these tough and unprecedented financial times for local government,” he said.

“This is a large amount of public money for Skipton to be a host town for the 2020 event and a sum that I couldn’t defend to my electorate. While some funding support has been provisionally offered by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, Craven Council will have to fund the lion’s share.

“Craven District Council has already had to call on £50,000 of new homes bonus reserve to prop up it’s 2019/20 revenue budget, and these new homes bonus reserves may well be needed in the short term for future budget setting to support local services.”

The Yorkshire Dales National Park has already committed an allocation of up to £50,000 from its Opportunities Fund, as a potential contribution towards a start of the 2020 edition of the Tour de Yorkshire in Skipton, on the provision the route would take in a large portion of its area.

Councillor Richard Foster, leader of Craven District Council, said: “The Tour de Yorkshire has continued to grow in terms of size, stature and the economic benefits it brings to the region.

“We saw how fantastic the event was when Settle staged a finish of the race in 2016, and the race route has included areas of Craven every year, always attracting large crowds.

“Host towns obviously benefit from visitors who are attracted to the area to view the race. However, there are also long-term benefits from the extensive television coverage and pre-race publicity which showcases and promotes the local area.”

Last year’s event took place over four days in May, 2018. The last stage of the race saw competitors pass through Craven, travelling through Sutton, Cross Hills, Skipton, up through Embsay, Eastby, Barden, Burnsall and Kettlewell, up over the infamous Park Rash climb and on up to Coverdale. The same route will be used again for this year’s event.

Welcome to Yorkshire says an estimated 2.6 million spectators lined the route over the four days, while the race itself was televised to 190 countries, reaching a global audience of 12.5 million and bringing £98 million to the Yorkshire economy.

In September, the UCI World Championships will be hosted in Yorkshire, with two of the championship races passing through Craven; the Junior men’s road race on Thursday September 26, and the Elite men’s road race on Sunday September 29.