THE arrival of the Tour de France in Yorkshire could help rebalance the north south divide in the economy, it was claimed in parliament this morning (Tuesday, December 18).

North Yorkshire MP Julian Smith today led a debate in the House of Commons on the decision to award Yorkshire the grand depart of the Tour de France in 2014.

It is predicted the event will attract £300m into the Yorkshire economy alone and will showcase the county to a vast global audience.

During the debate, the Sports Minister pledged that the Government, UK Sport and British Cycling would do “everything possible” to ensure the event is a “great success for Yorkshire” and one of the “great departs of the Tour de France.”

Ripon and Skipton MP Mr Smith is setting up a cross-party group of politicians from Yorkshire which will liaise with government ministers and other bodies, to ensure the start of the tour has as much backing as possible.

The Yorkshire and UK Tour de France All-Parliamentary group and Welcome to Yorkshire will meet with the sports minister in the new year. 

Mr Smith said: “Companies looking to invest in the UK, or looking for a UK location, will now be aware of Yorkshire.

“There will be huge opportunities for companies like Theakstons and Black Sheep brewery and other Yorkshire-based businesses.

“It will be a huge opportunity for them to get their name out there.”

The bid - led by the tourism agency Welcome to Yorkshire - fended off a rival proposal which would have seen the grand depart starting in Edinburgh." 

Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire said: “The debate this morning demonstrated the cross-party passion that exists for Yorkshire’s Grand Depart."