Thomas Bridge 24 June 2014

Localism Act used to help council host Tour de France

A local authority has used new powers to ensure the Tour de France's first stage can finish in its district.

Communities secretary Eric Pickles intervened to support Harrogate Borough Council after the town hall exercised the general power of competence in a bid to host the race in two week's time.

In order to host the Tour, Harrogate anticipated it would have to section off part of open grassland known as the Stray for sporting infrastructure. Yet the land's use and management has been regulated by private acts since 1770.

The local authority presented its case to Government for using the general power of competence to host the Tour, arguing that an individual could gain consent to host a cycle race on someone else's land.

Pickles stepped in and used the 2011 Localism Act to support Harrogate's bid and praised the town hall for its ingenuity.

'As a proud Yorkshireman, I couldn't be more delighted to welcome Le Grand Départ of the Tour de France to God's Own County. The government has done its bit to help Harrogate bring the world's greatest cycle race to these shores,' Pickles said.

'This will bring lasting benefits to Harrogate and using this localism power for the first time ever will ensure the event is a success and the land is looked after and returned to its original state afterwards.'

Cllr Richard Cooper, leader of Harrogate Borough Council, said: 'The Tour de France coming to the Harrogate district is a once-in-a-generation opportunity and excitement is mounting daily.

'We are grateful for the support shown by the government and local MPs to help make this a reality and for allowing us to make the most of the economic benefits it will bring, not just to Yorkshire but to the country as a whole.

'It just shows that local people working with the council and in partnership with government can do things for the good of our local area that alone we could not achieve.'

Photo: Radu Razvan/

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