World Championships show region is first class venue for global events

Travelling in and around Harrogate last week was a bit of a challenge, to say the least.

The UCI cycling World Championships were in town and there were road closures around the main circuit as well as across a much wider area for the longer distance road races.

No doubt many people suffered a bit of inconvenience trying to get around. I couldn’t get my daughter to the riding stables where she had offered to help for an afternoon. That kind of thing doesn’t really matter (fortunately she has always been something of a philosopher) but what is the impact on business?

Some businesses will be winners, others will be losers. I wasn’t about to try and get into Harrogate if I wanted to buy a lamp. Which I didn’t. But I did buy some bike kit ahead of the charity Sportive and a few drinks.

Over the medium to long term the impact of such events is, in my view, massively positive. It’s important that the region is on the national and international map. Make no mistake, this event is a big deal, which in recent years has been hosted by Melbourne, Copenhagen and Florence.

It hasn’t been in the UK since 1982, when it was held around Goodwood, presumably because that was before we had established Yorkshire as the UK’s home of cycling.

We need to know that when people hear ‘Yorkshire’, or the name of any of our towns and cities, the response will be a positive one. Whether it’s positive because of sporting events or teams, landscape, data connectivity, tech hubs or cultural icons doesn’t really matter, so long as it’s positive.

When it comes to planning for our region, we need to look at all the aspects that make it a great place to live and work.

The potential for a great future is enormous. We have vibrant cities embracing new technologies and new ways of working and we have the ability (and, I hope, the determination and resources) to connect them properly. We also have less successful areas where there is a workforce which needs growth and greater employment opportunities.

We need to embrace events such as the cycling, which draw a massive audience, both of visitors and through the media, to a beautiful town surrounded by beautiful countryside.

I can confirm that the countryside is beautiful because the Sportive charity ride went through 90 miles of it. And it looked great, apart from up in the mist and clouds through the Kidstones Pass where I have no idea what it looked like as you couldn’t see much further than the road ahead.

The Sportive was a chance to ride with friends and colleagues for charity and be a part of a special event. Notwithstanding the frequent cloudbursts there was cheerful support along the way. It’s good to be a part of something that celebrates the best of sport, the best of our region, the best of our community.

Let’s keep welcoming great events, great people and great businesses to Yorkshire.

Jonathan Oxley, Northern Powerhouse Ambassador, Institute of Directors

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