THE battle to boost tourism in Uttoxeter is ‘making good progress’ as Four Market Towns (FMT) bosses plan a huge cycling event aiming to attract 200 riders.
The FMT initiative has seen civic bosses in Uttoxeter, Ashbourne, Cheadle and Leek join forces to attract more visitors to their respective towns.
Among the ideas to put their towns on the map is the forthcoming Four Market Towns Cycling Event, which will take place on Sunday, September 21.
Cyclists will line up at Uttoxeter Town Hall at 9am for the starting flag of the 20-mile family ride spanning the four towns.
Riders will be able to rehydrate at water stations to be installed outside all four town halls.
Uttoxeter Cycling Club is backing the event and expects to provide between 60 and 80 riders, with project bosses hoping around 200 turn out in total.
The cycling club and Martin Blencowe, Uttoxeter Town Council’s representative on the FMT board, will provide signs for the event to direct riders and motorists.
Councillor Blencowe said he thinks the event promises to bring ‘significant footfall’ into Uttoxeter town centre.
He said: “I’m really excited about this event.
“Uttoxeter Cycling Club has taken this on board and is massively enthusiastic about it.
“We believe this will attract people from outside our area and we’re very privileged to have the start of the ride outside our town hall.
“I’m hoping Uttoxeter gets behind what we’re doing and people turn out in force on the starting line.
“That should provide a boost for businesses in High Street and around the town centre.
“This whole project’s about making people from all around aware of what this area has to offer and, particularly in cycling terms, there’s a lot to shout about.
“The countryside around the Moorlands and Ashbourne should be far more frequently visited than it is because it really is stunningly beautiful.
“I don’t think we’re going to quite top the Tour de France but we’re realistically looking at attracting 200 riders.”
All participants will pay a £10 entry fee, with all proceeds to be split between the four towns.
There will be road closures to accommodate the ride, with town businesses expected to provide prizes for those who cross the finishing line in the quickest times.
Councillor Blencowe has defended the prospect of asking taxpayers to shell out between £5,000 and £7,500 to pay for a full-time co-ordinator for the FMT.
He said: “It’s just an idea under consideration at the minute. The four towns all need support.
“We need the footfall and may need to invest to help that happen. It’s something the town council needs to discuss before making a decision.”
The cycling event follows the installation of a new cycle path leading riders from Derby Road to Uttoxeter town centre.
It also links into the national cycling network that bikers can follow it to and from Doveridge.
Uttoxeter Cycling Club recently used the path for the first time and hailed the development as a ‘significant boost to road safety’.
The path will also save motorists some frustration as they will no longer have to contend with slow-moving cyclists travelling along Derby Road.
County councillor Geoff Morrison said: “Cycle paths should be heading out into the countryside to take people away from cars and into the fresh air.
“There are a lot of people in Uttoxeter who are fanatical about cycling and we need to provide requisite facilities.
“There will be more cycle paths in Uttoxeter in the coming years in conjunction with the project to revamp the A50.
“I’m delighted the new path has come to fruition.”