Women’s Tour cycle race comes back to Kettering, but at what cost?

At last night’s Borough Council’s Executive Council meeting I welcomed the decision to have the Women’s Tour cycle race back to Kettering for the third year running. This is a great event and it not only helps the local economy by bringing in people to our town from all around the country, it raises our profile nationally with TV and media coverage. But more importantly its great fun and very popular.

However I did raise an important question about finance. After the first event, the council’s scrutiny committee were disappointed to be told that no money had been raised by the council through sponsorship to help pay for it despite previous promises. It was stated that the council had learnt lessons and were confident they would do much better if the y held the even again. So may question was simply, did they?

When the even t was held again the second time earlier this year, how much money was raised to help with the £40,000 cost? The answer I was given was just £2,000, and while I totally support holding the event again for the reasons I’ve touched on above. I was very disappointed to say the least to hear that figure. And I was not the only one, my asking the question sparked off a rare debate between the executive members with one saying he was “shocked and very disappointed that only £2,000 had been raised”.

He had a point, the council owe it to local council tax payers to do much more to reduce the burden of the cost and I can’t help feeling that part of the problem may be to do with something my Labour colleague Cllr. Anne Lee has been saying for a while. That the relationship between the council and businesses locally, especially the retailers in the town centre, needs improving. I can remember 15 or so years ago, when we had a thriving Chamber of Trade in the town and the council supported both them and other business organisations and there is no doubt things were much better at that time.

In fact, interesting enough I was once heavily involved in the setting up of a cycling even that an organisation called Kettering Means Business put on one Sunday in the town centre. This was hugely successful and brought loads of extra people into the town that day but that only came about because of the enthusiasm of a lot of volunteers from the business community but with the support of the council as whole as well as individual councillors who played a big part in working with the business community.

Hopefully the Women’s Tour and events like it can be used to try to bring back that spirit of business/council cooperation in the future.

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