The people of South Yorkshire have been thanked for ‘embracing’ one of the biggest events the county will ever see after the Tour de France was declared a grand success.
It is believed that up to five million people took to the streets to watch the Grand Départ across Yorkshire at the weekend – at least 1.5 million of them during Stage Two from York to Sheffield on Sunday – although final figures are yet to be confirmed.
Sheffield Council leader Julie Dore today praised the hundreds of thousands of jubilant revellers people who crowded on to the streets of the city.
She told The Star: “I want to thank every single person in Sheffield and South Yorkshire as well, because they came from all over the region, for their patience because we know there were some disruptions.
“But most of all I want to thank them for embracing it and enjoying it.
“In these times we are always striving to find things that people can enjoy and be proud of.
“Sheffield not only needs to be a great place to live and work but also a great place to visit.
“We have always known Sheffield is one of the best cities in the world, that Yorkshire is one of the best counties, and people can see that quite clearly now and I am sure it will bring many people back to our beautiful city and region.”
Spectators in Sheffield heaped praise on the way the Tour was celebrated over the weekend.
Bradfield spectators Jim and Mal Cork, who are originally from Loxley and Wharncliffe Side and married at the village church, said it had showcased the best the city had to offer.
Jim added: “It’s fantastic to have this in Sheffield and such a boost to the local economy. Now everyone will see how great Sheffield is.”
Gill Harvey, of Dronfield, added: “As an advert for Yorkshire it has been absolutely fantastic. We do hope that people will want to come back again once they see how great it is.”
And defending Tour champion Chris Froome also said on Twitter: “I’ve never been part of a Grand Depart like that.
“Crowds and support out there was second to none.”
In Barnsley more than 50,000 people turned out to watch the race wind around 8.1 miles of the borough.
Coun Roy Miller said: “My sincere thanks go to all the people who came to watch this spectacular event – it really was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“I’m also grateful to residents and businesses for their support over the last few months and on the day. Also the volunteers should be congratulated.
“You’ve really done Barnsley proud.”
Coun Dore said she believed the estimated visitor numbers, which were just 250,000 for Sheffield, and economic boost would turn out to be ‘surpassed’.
A report on the economic impact of the Tour coming to Yorkshire is to be published later this year.
Coun Dore added: “From feedback I know bars and other outlets in the city centre were having to go and get more supplies on Saturday night because people were so eager to celebrate even on the eve of the Tour coming to Sheffield.
“It was an event not just for cycling enthusiasts but for everyone and you could see that from the numbers that turned out on the streets.
“It was an absolutely incredible day, it exceeded my expectations and I think many other people’s because there were some concerns – I think everybody that was concerned about it was proved wrong.
“I think it was one of the best events we have seen in Yorkshire for a very long time, and all credit to the organising team, Welcome to Yorkshire and local authority teams.
“Everything went smoothly, even the weather.”
Some concerns were raised that residents in the Fox Hill area would be ‘blocked in’ due to road closures, which were altered after a campaign led by John Flowers.
Railway signalman John said: “I left the house at 12.15pm to go to work and went through one of the roads the council wanted to close at 7.30am – there were only three spectators there.”