The launch of the event
The launch of the event

PLANS are being made to hold a public meeting over a controversial cycle event that will close major routes up the dale later this year.

Plans that the 100-mile Velo North sportive, due to take place in September, would pass through upper Teesdale and parts of the Gaunless Valley were announced in February, sparking worries about the impact it would have on farmers, businesses and people with health issues.

Now Upper Teesdale Agricultural Support Services (Utass) is calling for a public meeting to which event organisers and county officers will be invited to attend.

The call was made during Middleton-in-Teesdale and Newbiggin Parish Council’s latest meeting.

Cllr Bob Danby, who is also joint project manager for Utass, said: “There was a petition brought into Utass by a shop proprietor in the village.

“As a result of that I went to speak to him and he feels quite strongly about it. We were also pushed by another parishioner down at the mart who felt very strongly about it. Obviously the farmers up the dale are quite concerned about it as well.”

Cllr Danby added that he had spoken to the parish council’s chairman Andy Mitchell and they had agreed to “test the water” about people’s views about holding a public meeting.

He added: “I have also spoken to [county councillor] Ted Henderson who, if we hold a meeting, would be prepared to attend. He is quite concerned about it.

“I have also spoken to Ed Turner, who is the police inspector, who would like to come along to see what the depth of feeling is – but it is outside his remit to do anything.”

Cllr Danby suggested the parish council should organise a meeting and that Eggleston Parish Council be involved as their village would also be affected.

However, acting parish council chairman John Miller said it would be better for Utass to arrange the meeting as it was largely farmers who would be affected.

He added: “I don’t think there is a better way now because I think it is a done deal. But if they want to know the strength of feeling I think by all means and I am sure a lot of people will attend.”

Cllr Nickie Hough said the problem was the duration of the event which would cut people off for almost an entire day.

She added: “If it was a race fine, but it isn’t a race, it is a ride out. You can ride it any weekend free, and it is beautiful.”

Cllr Sue Bainbridge said: “The Tour de France, they are professional cyclists who go through in a big pack.

“So these would be like me setting off from Durham and, God forbid, trying to ride a hundred miles.

“I’d probably be back at 10 o’clock at night.

Cllr Danby concluded: “The person we were speaking to, she is a keen cyclist and she is up in arms.

“She said it will turn people against cyclists. She said the same thing happened after the last event.”

A date for the public meeting has yet to be confirmed.