ALL EARS: County officers and cycle event organisers faced tough questions during the public meeting
ALL EARS: County officers and cycle event organisers faced tough questions during the public meeting

COUNTY officers and organisers of a cycle sportive have been blasted over a lack of consultation for an event that will shut off the upper dale for almost a day this summer.

A heated public meeting called by Upper Teesdale Agricultural Support Services (Utass) last week heard how Velo North will impact heavily on farmers' haymaking and local businesses' turnover.

People also fear they will be locked in their homes for up to eight hours during road closures at Langdon Beck, Middleton-in-Teesdale, Eggleston, Kinninvie, Copley, Woodland and Hamsterley.

The event is expected to attract 10,000 riders taking part in either a 50 mile or 100 mile closed road cycle ride that is being billed by former professional cyclist David Millar as: “Simply spellbinding, the most beautiful organised ride in the UK.”

But people affected by it are less impressed.

Sue Matthews, landlady of Langdon Beck Hotel said: “Consultation with stakeholders has not happened.”

County councillor Ted Henderson added: “The first information I received about the event was from the flyer not through official council means. “ I have not received a full briefing and there should have been more time or consultation with local residents and businesses.”

However, Matt Brooke from Velo North said: “We are here to get a sense of the concerns of locals, to try to clarify exactly what will be taking place on the day and to listen to individuals concerns and take them back to HQ to try and resolve any issues.”

Nigel Dodds from Durham County Council added: “The route was planned with the emergency services and highways officers from DCC before it was published. This would then allow us to talk in a meaningful way about how we can assist individuals.”

He said motorbike escorts would help people get through the road closures and sweeper buses would pick up stragglers to ensure roads are reopened on time.

Emergency services were to be given priority access through the route if necessary, while medical teams provided by the organisers will also be able to respond to incidents if needed, he added.

With riders having to register for the event on the previous day in Durham and with the road closures in place preventing access the dale on the day several local residents questioned what benefits if any were to be had for Teesdale.

When pressed about the issue of compensation for businesses who would be losing money Mr Dodds said: “ The county council will not compensating businesses for any losses incurred as a result of the event.”

Mr Brooke concluded: “This event will only be a success if the community are behind it. We urge anyone who thinks they will be affected by the event to get in touch at, or visit to find out more about the event, the route and the road closures.”