Bid to bring leg of Tour de France to Southend

THE world-famous Tour de France could race through the streets of Southend as the borough looks to host more major sporting events.

Councillors are now working with Rochford and Southend East MP James Duddridge to make a Government bid and host the cycling event in south Essex.

This comes as Southend hosted the fourth stage of the hugely successful Women’s Tour cycling race through the borough and parts of Rochford in October.

If the bid is successful it would be the second time the Tour de France has taken to Essex. Crowds lined the streets of Chelmsford back in July 2014 to welcome some of the world’s best cyclists.

Dan Nelson, Conservative councillor for Southchurch ward, unveiled his big plans for the future with the help of Mr Duddridge.

He said: “The government announced that it will be putting money towards bidding for more major events in the UK including a fund to get the Tour de France to UK.

“I’m of the view Southend proved to itself that we can hold major cycling events and I am pleased to say that James Duddridge agrees with me and has written to the Secretary of State asking them and making sure that Southend is a part of that bid and I’m hopeful that we will be successful.”

Mr Duddridge said: “After the recent success of the AJ Bell Women’s Tour in Southend, we should be looking to host even more world-class events which promote healthy lifestyles and exercise, but also bring investment and tourism to our new city.

“I fully support Cllr Nelson’s vision for bringing the 2026 Tour de France Grand Depart to the new City of Southend, and I have written to the Culture Secretary to ask that our city is included in the bid.”

Cllr Nelson helped bring the Women’s Tour to Southend for the first time.

On Thursday he told a full council meeting what a success the event had been.

He said: “After the event I spoke the organisers Sweet Spot and they were very, very clear this was the best stage they have ever hosted on the women’s tour.”

Cllr Nelson added the tour had a special poignance for him because it was attended by the late Sir David Amess MP.

The Women’s Tour raced through the borough in October

Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter