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Calls for York Grand Departy Inquiry After £187,000 Loss

York Council 010513

7:42pm 11th November 2014

There are calls for an inquiry into the Grand Departy concert which was held before the Tour de France came to York.

The event made a loss of £187,000, which overall the programme of events put on by York Council to mark the event made a £252,000 loss. However, overall the Tour de France was £60,000 overbudget as savings were made elsewhere. York Council has also pointed out that there was an economic boost to Yorkshire, including York, of around £150 million.

But opposition Lib Dem councillors say lessons must now be learnt from the event, particularly if York wants a role in the Tour de Yorkshire event planned for next year. Minster FM revealed this month, that the bill to York for a role in this event could reach £800,000.

Lib Dem Ian Cutherbertson said:

"While the Tour De France appears to have given a considerable boost to the regional economy, the council organised events in York encountered significant problems.

“In the run-up to July Lib Dem councillors called on the Labour Cabinet to publish a business case to justify council spending. Yet the Cabinet consistently ignored these requests and subsequently ran a series of events which failed to hit budget targets.

“The ‘Events and Festivals’ programme lost £252,000 with the Grand Departy concert alone losing £187,000. A review is needed to investigate the planning, promotion and delivery of this programme, so as to explain how and why these losses occurred. We also need to look at other areas where original budget estimates were missed.

“Only by doing this can we ensure that the lessons are learnt and that any future events are managed within budget. This is particularly important if the council moves forwards with plans for the Tour De Yorkshire cycle race.”

But the Labour leader of York Council, James Alexander hit back saying:

“Comments from the Liberal Democrats recently did little to hide the fact that they were always against bringing the Tour De France to York, doubting York’s ability to receive the Tour and host the second stage. Some would argue Lib Dems sought to undermine the Tour at every opportunity as well as the potential income for the council taxpayer from plans including camping. Underspends largely made up for the loss on the concert and I am confident the Tour, which was slightly over budget could have been delivered within the budget if the Lib Dems had not scared away the opportunity for camping during the Tour.

“Although we are disappointed this one concert was over budget, the Tour overall was a huge success that is a testament to Labour being prepared to invest to support local business and the community. We feel the cycling legacy alone shows this was the right decision for the city.  The economic impact was truly significant and that must be taken into account in assessing the success of bringing the Tour De France to York”.

EIGHTEEN CONCERT SAFETY CONCERNS REVEALED

Meanwhile, a Freedom of Information request has revealed eighteen safety concerns about the concert in a debrief after the event held by officials on the Safety Advisory Group (SAG) on 23rd July.

These were:

  • The proposal to use Huntington Stadium for these events was broached 6 to 12 months prior to events, however, communication to relevant persons involved did not seem to take place from when idea was first mooted to event being a ‘done deal’, this resulted in the submission of an inadequate licensing application and very short notice in submitting the relevant documentation.
  • Short timescales put officers and departments under unfair and unreasonable pressure.
  • Existing CYC policies and processes should have been implemented but there appeared to be a failure to do so.
  • Cuff & Taylor were employed to oversee health and safety, but were prohibited from using own contractors with CYC outsourcing directly.  This resulted in C & T failing to have complete control of the event.  
  • Event manual was generic in many aspects and not specific to the site.
  • Discrepancy in number rationale for calculating safety and emergency exits. Occupancies for the two events held two days apart was a flawed concept, probably due to pressure to achieve occupancy numbers.
  • Not being able to use the stands had the potential to create disorder if the attendance figures had been greater.
  • CYC event leader had responsibility for 3 hubs and the concert during a 72 hour period which was too much responsibility for one person who was overstretched to meet demands of all events.
  • Official fire exit signage failed to reach the stadium.
  • Gazebos were erected without the knowledge of the safety officer and were secured to fencing blocking an emergency exit.
  • No additional lighting was provided for those exiting site prior to end of concert and lighting had to be requested to be turned on LC.
  • Public admitted to event whilst fire exits were still locked and keys to exits were not readily available.
  • Terraced seating was being used by the public and stewards had to be requested to clear stands. No fencing erected behind catering units which would have prohibited access.
  • Bar staff had not been instructed when to close bars.
  • Occupancy was not monitored and difficult to assess due to mix of sold and free tickets.
  • CYC event officer not contactable for approx one and half hours due to phone flat battery.
  • Members of public given conflicting advice as to allowing, picnics, alcohol and glass on site.  
  • Aspirations which were not deliverable were imposed on the SAG and any similar event presented with such short notice would not have been supported by the SAG.

York Council's Director of Communities and Neighbourhoods, Sally Burns said in response:

“SAG’s views have not been raised with the organisers who held a detailed debrief following the highly successful and safe event which the Tour de France proved to be. SAG approved the detailed measures put in place and we adhered as far as possible to their advice. York has and continues to benefit from incredibly positive global media attention in relation to the event ensuring that the best of York is seen by billions of people worldwide, in the run up to, during and after the race, increasing York's profile as a place in which people want to live, work, visit and invest.”

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