Councillors will be asked to back plans for a major cycling event with the potential to boost County Durham’s economy by millions of pounds next week.
Durham County Council has been invited to co-host a mass-participation closed-road cycling event this September.
If approved, Vélo North would coincide with the 2019 Year of Culture campaign and has the potential to attract up to 15,000 participants and more than 40,000 visitors to the county.
An estimated 80 per cent of attendees would be from outside of the area and many are expected to stay overnight, leading to increased visitor spend. Similar events elsewhere in the country have boosted the local economy by as much as £2.7m.
The council’s cabinet will be asked to approve a budget of £250,000 for the project and to allocate the staff needed when it meets at County Hall on Wednesday, 6 February.
At the heart of the event would be a 100-mile route that will take thousands of riders on a spectacular journey through the North Pennines countryside on closed roads – the only event of its kind in the North of England.
There would also be a shorter, 50-mile route and a diverse programme of community events and activities aimed at encouraging people to take up the sport.
The exact route of the ride is still being finalised but organisers hope to showcase the diverse landscapes the county has to offer. It will either start, finish or pass through Durham City and Bishop Auckland.
Cllr Ossie Johnson, Cabinet member for culture, leisure and rural issues, said: “This event is an opportunity to show off our beautiful county to a new audience.
“It would also significantly boost our economy and inspire people to lead a more active and healthy lifestyle.
“This is just the kind of event we should deliver in County Durham, especially in a year when we are celebrating culture and sport and the many benefits they bring.”
Approved by Cabinet last month, 2019 Year of Culture is a campaign to showcase the enriching programme of arts and sporting activities taking place this year.
To find out more about the campaign, visit www.durham.gov.uk/durham19