Otley councillor warns of Tour de France volunteer "shambles"

Wharfedale Observer: (7033750) (7033750)

A former Otley town mayor has blasted the way a volunteer scheme for Yorkshire's leg of the Tour de France is being run.

Councillor Nigel Francis (Ind, Danefield) is one of thousands of people across the county who have signed up to be a Tour Maker for the Grand Depart.

The scheme involves marshalling at a certain point along the race's route to ensure the public have as enjoyable and safe at time as possible - but Coun Francis says it is shaping up to be "a shambles".

He decided to publicly criticise the scheme after discovering that he and many fellow volunteers had been allocated to stages far away from their homes -making a mockery of the strong 'local knowledge' the Tour Makers were meant to need.

Coun Francis said: "We're meant to be 'the eyes and ears' of the event and direct people to local services and give directions, but how can you do that when you've been allocated to somewhere you don't know anything about?

"I've been given Green Hammerton, over by York, which I know nothing about.

"I attended the Tour Makers event in Leeds on May 24 where we were all being told how important the role was and how useful our local knowledge would be, but when I got talking to people around me they all had the same story.

"I talked to man from Sheffield who has been given Harrogate, and a fellow from Harrogate who has been allocated Aysgarth Falls, while a woman from York has been given Otley while I'm going to be over near York!

"I spoke to about half a dozen people and they were all in the same boat. I'm just worried the organisers have done this across the board - I'm not sure they know what they're doing."

Coun Francis also fears allocating people to spots far from their homes will create travel problems come the Tour's first day on Saturday, July 5 - when many roads will be closed before 8am.

The Tour Maker programme is being run by TdFHUB2014 Ltd, with backing from supermarket chain Asda.

On the Tour Maker section of its website, Asda stresses that the volunteers will play an "essential" role and "give directions, keep spectators informed and generally ensure the event is a fantastic experience for everyone to remember."

But it also warns that Tour Makers will have to be "flexible" and prepared for potentially "very early starts".

A spokesman for the Tour Maker Team at TdFHUB2014 Ltd said: "Tour Makers were given the opportunity to specify if they had a preferred location and stage on their application form.

"Their preferences were taken into account but unfortunately not everyone could be assigned to their first choice position.

"Due to the complex nature of rostering almost 10,000 volunteers and the race day requirements, not everyone could be allocated to the positions in some of the more popular areas, or indeed as close to home as they had hoped.

"Some Tour Makers will travel both within their home county and from overseas to take part in this once in a lifetime experience."

Comments (6)

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9:44am Sat 14 Jun 14

JGelder says...

I live in Leeds and chose Cray, which I got. The reason for choosing this area was that everyone would want to choose their local area and they still need Marshalls and Wayfinders even up in the remote Dales. My only problem is getting to the check in point before the trains run in the morning. Apparently Northern Rail are putting on more trains but they are a bit late telling people who need to organise travel. I think the public transport companies really have left it a bit late.
I live in Leeds and chose Cray, which I got. The reason for choosing this area was that everyone would want to choose their local area and they still need Marshalls and Wayfinders even up in the remote Dales. My only problem is getting to the check in point before the trains run in the morning. Apparently Northern Rail are putting on more trains but they are a bit late telling people who need to organise travel. I think the public transport companies really have left it a bit late. JGelder
  • Score: 2

3:50pm Sat 14 Jun 14

ATourMaker says...

I live near Sheffield in the Peak District, I asked for Sheffield or the section of course through the Peak District on the way into Sheffield as a route marshal as I know the area and a role I am familiar with, I find myself in York (a city I don't particularly know) as a wayfinder. Absolutely balmy! Add to that ill fitting uniforms, being made to emit CO2 travelling to training sessions which could have delivered as effectively over the web and very hit and miss communication with TdFHUB2014 and while I'm sure the volunteers will do their best to deliver a world beating 3 days for the tour's time in England it will be despite the (in)actions of TdFHUB2014 and Asda no because of them.
Also through the whole process I have seen absolutely no evidence of link between TdFHUB2014 and the Tour de France itself, even the badges we have been given say ASDA in big letters but make no mention of the Tour De France. It seems we are an on bolted on the size because the idea went down well at the Olympics which the race itself seems to neither wants or needs.
Oh and if TdFHUB2014 or Asda read this it would be good to know the carbon footprint of the volunteer programme as I seem to remember the green credentials played a major part in the bid!
I live near Sheffield in the Peak District, I asked for Sheffield or the section of course through the Peak District on the way into Sheffield as a route marshal as I know the area and a role I am familiar with, I find myself in York (a city I don't particularly know) as a wayfinder. Absolutely balmy! Add to that ill fitting uniforms, being made to emit CO2 travelling to training sessions which could have delivered as effectively over the web and very hit and miss communication with TdFHUB2014 and while I'm sure the volunteers will do their best to deliver a world beating 3 days for the tour's time in England it will be despite the (in)actions of TdFHUB2014 and Asda no because of them. Also through the whole process I have seen absolutely no evidence of link between TdFHUB2014 and the Tour de France itself, even the badges we have been given say ASDA in big letters but make no mention of the Tour De France. It seems we are an on bolted on the size because the idea went down well at the Olympics which the race itself seems to neither wants or needs. Oh and if TdFHUB2014 or Asda read this it would be good to know the carbon footprint of the volunteer programme as I seem to remember the green credentials played a major part in the bid! ATourMaker
  • Score: 2

4:59pm Sat 14 Jun 14

ATourMaker says...

Just to be clear on all our uniform items (very Asda staff looking) Yorkshire is mentioned, Grand Departe is mentioned, Leeds, Harrogate, York, Sheffield, Cambridge and London are mentioned, the Tour De France is not mentioned. The TdF has managed without volunteers for the last 100 editions, does it really need them now or have we all been roped in on the cheap for a huge Asda publicity stunt?
Just to be clear on all our uniform items (very Asda staff looking) Yorkshire is mentioned, Grand Departe is mentioned, Leeds, Harrogate, York, Sheffield, Cambridge and London are mentioned, the Tour De France is not mentioned. The TdF has managed without volunteers for the last 100 editions, does it really need them now or have we all been roped in on the cheap for a huge Asda publicity stunt? ATourMaker
  • Score: 2

1:58pm Mon 16 Jun 14

Robin11 says...

Last post, in assuming that your going to stand down as a tour maker if you feel that strongly
Last post, in assuming that your going to stand down as a tour maker if you feel that strongly Robin11
  • Score: 0

1:44pm Wed 18 Jun 14

chr1sdb says...

I live in Otley and was given Holmfirth on Stage 2. I asked for stage 1 as I can't do the Sunday. Had to withdraw.
I live in Otley and was given Holmfirth on Stage 2. I asked for stage 1 as I can't do the Sunday. Had to withdraw. chr1sdb
  • Score: 1

3:22pm Thu 26 Jun 14

Adsads says...

I think you're speaking on behalf of the minority. The majority of us Tourmakers are extremely proud to show off this wonderful part of the world, and so excited to be a part of the largest annual sporting event in the world, right on our doorstep. Why does it matter where you're posted? Why should it matter if your uniform/badge don't mention the words Tour De France? Stop being so pathetic, suck it up, and enjoy what could possibly be a once in a lifetime event for Yorkshire.

To be honest, I'm quite appalled by this article. Surely our local councillors should be showing off this event to the world, instead of (poorly!) attempting to score petty political points from the minority of bore-makers and residents whose cars will have to be parked in another street for one evening!
I think you're speaking on behalf of the minority. The majority of us Tourmakers are extremely proud to show off this wonderful part of the world, and so excited to be a part of the largest annual sporting event in the world, right on our doorstep. Why does it matter where you're posted? Why should it matter if your uniform/badge don't mention the words Tour De France? Stop being so pathetic, suck it up, and enjoy what could possibly be a once in a lifetime event for Yorkshire. To be honest, I'm quite appalled by this article. Surely our local councillors should be showing off this event to the world, instead of (poorly!) attempting to score petty political points from the minority of bore-makers and residents whose cars will have to be parked in another street for one evening! Adsads
  • Score: 3

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