FEARS that a large scale charity bike ride could disrupt haymaking in a farming community were raised with councillors today (Wednesday, June 11).

David Kinch, of Teesdale Area Action Partnership, is concerned road closures associated with the Etape Pennines will disrupt farming in Teesdale and Weardale in County Durham.

More than 2,000 cyclists are expected to take part in the Sunday, July 20, event - helping to raise funds for Marie Curie Cancer Care.

At a meeting of Durham County Council’s cabinet at The Witham in Barnard Castle, Mr Kinch, asked why the authority had not consulted with parish councils and the National Farmers Union (NFU).

“This is a farming community and by having the cycle ride in July this can cause the farmers many problems,” he said.

“The roads are to be closed for up to five hours and this is haymaking time, with other crops having to be cut and moved in a very short time scale.”

Mr Kinch also raised concerns about the impact the road closures could have on tourism, as the event takes place at the start of the school holidays.

Councillor Maria Plews said public meetings had been held and that there had been a “significant and on-going discussion” between the organiser, IMG Challenger World, and the NFU.

Cllr Plews said all residents and businesses along the 60-mile course had received information about the event and the council had only been received one letter of complaint.

She said the event the economic benefit of last year’s event was £235,000, adding: “We believe the event has positive effect on the local economy in particular for accommodation providers.”