Sneaky souvenir-hunters have stripped Sheffield of dozens of special road signs installed to guide visitors to the Tour de France.
All four of the summit signs put up by Sheffield Council at Midhopestones, Oughtibridge, Wincobank and Bradfield, to indicate the route’s height and gradient, have been taken, perhaps by tourists at the once-in-a-lifetime event last month.
An information sign at the bottom of Jenkin Road – the steepest climb on the entire Tour route at 33 per cent gradient – and more than half of the 70 brown route signs helping visitors to find their way around were also stolen. But the petty thieves stopped short of making off with regular road signs from Sheffield, which attracted around 1.5 million visitors during Stage Two of the Tour.
Sheffield Council leader Julie Dore said: “Obviously any sort of theft is unacceptable and should be avoided.
“However the Tour de France was such a once-in-a-lifetime event for our region it is not surprising these road signs were taken.
“It is a situation similar to students on their final day taking traffic cones.”
The signs were installed in June to celebrate the arrival of the Tour. At the time the council said they would serve as a ‘lasting reminder’ of the Grand Depart and help raise the city’s profile as riders came to try out the challenging route.
The signs were also part of projects aimed at building on the success of the event and encouraging more people to cycle.
Now the council is to replace some of the signs so cyclists will still be able to ride the route around Sheffield.
Special Tour de France banners that hung around the city will be sold off to cover the cost and several people have already inquired about buying them.
The cost of the replacement signs has not been confirmed by the council.
Coun Jack Scott, cabinet member for streetscene, said it was ‘very unfortunate’ the signs had been stolen.
He added: “We think the event was fantastic for our city and is worth remembering for generations to come, and the signs along the route were a large part of that – not least so cyclists could follow the path taken by the likes of Chris Froome and Richie Porte. However, council funds are under huge pressure as a result of Government cuts and, if the signs keep being stolen, we simply won’t be able to replace them any more.
“I think this would be a real shame for all those honest and trustworthy Sheffielders who would like to see the signs stand as a great reminder of what was an absolutely awe-inspiring day.”
Welcome to Yorkshire said a number of signs across the county had been stolen as souvenirs from the Grand Départ.