Tour de France: Harrogate town centre lockdown for le Tour party

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Harrogate town centre will go into lockdown for 18 hours on the day the Tour de France comes to town.

Vehicle access to the town centre will be completely stopped from 4am to 10pm on Saturday, July 5, and parking restrictions will be put in place in the days leading up to the stage, Harrogate Borough Council has revealed.

The council have also unveiled plans for a free four day party at the finish line of the Tour de France as Harrogate will play host to the only official TDF Fan Park outside London.

The West Park Stray is the only place in Yorkshire which will host an official Velo-Go Go Fan Park which will have a big screen, food stands and bars with a festival atmosphere.

The hub will be in place from July 3 to July 6 with live music and party nights, though the World Cup quater final will not be shown on big screens to ‘maintain a family orientated event.’

Leader of Harrogate Borough Council, Coun Anthony Alton said: “We had always planned to have a fan zone on West Park Stray but this takes it to another level and it also gives businesses the chance to get involved too.”

More than 100,000 vistors are expected to descend on Harrogate on the weekend of July 5 and 6, and a second spectator hub will be set up outside Crescent Gardens to absorb some of the pressure from the crowds gathered at the finish line.

Nigel Avison, the council’s director of development services, said: “This is the biggest event Harrogate has ever seen and probably will ever see,” at an event for Harrogate businesses on Tuesday (April 1).

He added: “It will cause disruption. The perception that life can go on as normal is a bit fanciful.”

All roads bounded by West Park, Parliament Street, Montpellier Hill, Royal Parade, Crescent Road, Swan Road, Cornwall Road, King’s Road, Springfield Avenue, Cheltenham Mount, Bower Street, Lower Station Parade, Station Parade and Station Bridge will be closed for a minimum of 18 hours on race day and traffic coming into Harrogate will be directed to the Great Yorkshire Showground or car parks in private fields on the Killinghall side of town.

A two-mile walkway connecting the showground with the town centre will be created and decorated and visitors will be encouraged to walk or cycle into Harrogate.

David Bowe, North Yorkshire County Council’s director of business and environmental Services, said: “The reality is, this will not be a normal weekend.”

Mr Bowe added: “We have seen the level of traffic for the Great Yorkshire Show – this is very very many times that size in terms of traffic.

“It is inevitable there is going to be significant impact on the roads. It is not going to be the traffic management itself that causes problems, it is going to be the traffic. If this is as popular as expected to be there will be queueing traffic around the area.”

Harrogate’s ancient Stray Act has been relaxed by the Secretary of State to allow the area to host the sprint finish of the first stage of the Tour de France and a spectator hub.

John Mcgivern, Tour de France event manager at Harrogate Borough Council said: “We know how important the Stray is so we are doing everything in our powers to keep damage to a bare minimum.”

Preparation works will begin on the Stray the weekend before the Grand Départ and Tour de France organisers, Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) will arrive in Harrogate July 2 to start preparing for the finish line.

There are six other ‘key areas’ for spectators in the district, including Ripon and Knaresborough’s market places which are expected to attract 30,000 visitors, Ripley where an estimated 3,000 will camp and Starbeck which will boast a big screen on Belmont field.