Sponsorship to fund Tour of Britain

If the Tour of Britain is to make a return to Norfolk in 2011 then savings will have to be made and local businesses may have to put forward their own cash through sponsorship deals.

That was the message from Norfolk County Council officers yesterday as they briefed councillors on the benefits it brought to the region earlier this year.

In a report to the council's Community Services Overview and Scrutiny Panel, officers claimed it brought in an extra �5.4m to businesses across the county.

It is said that 130,000 people watched the 117-mile Norfolk stage, which was supported by the EDP, as it wound its way from King's Lynn to Great Yarmouth.

An independent research company found the average spectator spent �41, giving a 20-fold return on the council's �265,000 investment to stage the race.

The report outlines how the Tour benefited the local tourism industry most of all, with 81pc of cash generated by the event coming from visitors from outside of Norfolk.

But at the meeting officers warned that business sponsorship may be necessary if such an expensive event was to be staged again next year, even though significant savings could be made now that the council had experience with such a large project.

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Mari Martin, head of arts at Norfolk County Council, said: 'It would be a lot easier and a lot cheaper to do it again.'

But she warned that significant cost savings would have to be made given that the council was currently having to find substantial budget reductions.

SweetSpot Group, the company which organises the Tour of Britain, was paid �175,000 by Norfolk County Council to bring the event to the region.

'Every local authority that hosts a stage are in the same boat we are,' said Mrs Martin.

'We're negotiating with them, if the tour were to come back, to lower the fee, because that's critical.'

There was also doubt expressed by councillors of the claims that more than �5m was generated by the race.

James Joyce, county councillor for Reepham, said: 'I have to admit I'm not sure I would have too much faith in that. We need to do a little bit more research.'

He said that he had attended the stage with his wife and children and added that 'I'm fairly sure we didn't spend four times �41'.

Council officers assured councillors that the figures were 'very solid'.