A community group in Kelso is to explore funding possibilities in a bid to capitalise on this year’s Tour of Britain, which starts and finishes in the town.
Marketing group Visit Kelso, which works on behalf of businesses in the town, is keen to make sure Kelso is seen at its best when the Tour of Britain, the country’s biggest professional cycle race, returns to the region in September.
However, it has warned that possibilities may be limited due to a reduction in funding since the town hosted a stage finish in 2017.
Speaking at Kelso Community Council’s meeting, on Tuesday, June 11, Visit Kelso chairwoman Tina Newton said: “The Tour of Britain is coming back to Kelso, and this time it is starting and finishing in the town. Visit Kelso did an awful lot of work last time.
“We do not know if we can replicate what we did then because the funding isn’t there, but we are going to see what we can do with the resources and people that we have.
“It starts and finishes here this year so I think it is even more important to put on a good show for the town.”
Members heard that the group had received a £4,000 grant from Scottish Borders Council to promote the event in 2017. However it has so far been promised just a quarter of that this time round.
“The funding was just over £4,000 and it’s just over £1,000 this year,” Tina said. “I think that is being increased but I do not know how much by.
“We are looking at where we can recycle and save. Last time for example we had some stencils created to put signs in fields which was great for overhead shots. We still have them and they can be reused.”
Town provost Dean Weatherston said: “In 2017 the council asked to work with Visit Kelso and gave them a budget, which worked very well.
“The leaflets Visit Kelso produced then are now used as good examples to other communities of how to market their areas.
“The council does not have the same budget this year. They still want to work with us, but there’s not the same money available.”
Tina added: “It’s a fantastic event for Kelso and we are determined to capitalise on this opportunity. We will be assigning tasks and setting up sub groups at our next meeting.”
The Tour of Britain returns to the Borders on Sunday, September 8, with Kelso previously hosting stage finishes in 2015 and 2017. Stage Two will start and finish in Kelso, with the full route entirely within the Borders.
Starting from Kelso town centre, the riders will complete an anti-clockwise loop via Coldstream, Chirnside, the Lammermuirs, Duns, Scott’s View, Melrose, around the Eildon Hills, and alongside the River Tweed to the cobbled finish in Kelso.
Councillor Mark Rowley, executive member for business and economic development, said: “We know that the 2017 stage finish in Kelso brought many thousands of visitors in to the area, and had an extremely positive impact for local shops, cafes and accommodation providers.”
Kelso councillors Simon Mountford, Euan Robson and Tom Weatherston said that the race’s return to Kelso for a third time was “fantastic news for the town”.
They added: “We look forward to welcoming thousands of visitors from across the Borders and further afield and are confident that the town’s traders will ensure it is looking at its best.”