The Scotsman newspaper has published a piece criticising the "ridiculous decision" to host the UCI Cycling World Championships in Scotland, a project which it was yesterday revealed came in £8 million over its £60 million budget.
In a 'Scotsman Comment' article representing its editorial stance, the newspaper labelled the hosting of the event a "vanity project", highlighting other services and budgets that have been slashed and suggesting that now "Scottish taxpayers will have to foot the bill" for it being over budget.
That was news yesterday announced by Scotland's culture secretary Angus Robertson who told the culture committee a combination of "increased costs, including inflation" meant the final costs are believed to have exceeded the £8 million mark.
The SNP-run Scottish Government had previously capped its financial backing for the event at £30 million, but admitted earlier this year that had crept up to nearly £36 million, Glasgow City Council contributing around £16 million also.
Speaking yesterday, Robertson said: "This year we saw funding from the Scottish Government and partners across the country to help deliver the 2023 UCI Cycling World Championships, which helped promote the health and wellbeing benefits of cycling, and drive wider economic and social benefits across Scotland.
"But due to increased costs, including inflation, the total funding provided by the government and partners is in the process of being finalised. Final costs will be confirmed in due course, but are in the order of £8 million.
"Government funding for the event prior to its completion was delivered through our major events budget. But since the conclusion of the event, any additional funding that may be required will be managed centrally."
Unhappy with the announcement, The Scotsman highlighted how £6.6 million had been cut from Creative Scotland's budget in recent times, the public body that supports the arts, screen and creative industries. Robertson is also reportedly considering cutting the arts sector funding by a further £4 million.
The newspaper's editorial stance continued: "The message that the Scottish Government appears to be sending is that it believes a one-off cycling event is more important than the health of our ailing arts and culture sector. That a vanity project which put Scotland on the global stage for a brief time somehow beats ensuring that a vital part of our economy, which helps to define what being Scottish actually means, will thrive and not shrink.
"In good times, spending millions on a cycling event might have been acceptable. But amid a sustained period of economic problems that have been hitting the arts world hard – from the 2008 financial crash and the years of austerity that followed to the Covid pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis – it was a ridiculous decision."
A Scottish Government spokesperson said they had "an obligation to balance the budget and prioritise funding to deliver the best value for every taxpayer in Scotland".
"As a result of rising costs and pressure on budgets across government, made more challenging as a result of UK inflation, we are continuing to work with partners to ensure all public investment is used to deliver the maximum benefit for communities and organisations across Scotland," the spokesperson said.
The Scotsman's outlook does not reflect the whole of the Scottish media landscape however, The Herald in June reporting the event would bring in an estimated revenue of £67 million for Glasgow, with the city promoted as a tourist destination, as well as extra business for the hospitality sector.
Stirling's council, where the time trial events were hosted, estimated the city had welcomed an additional 75,000 people, compared to the same days a week earlier, bringing "lasting economic and social benefits".
Speaking to riders, fans and locals on the ground at the event too the reception was much more positive, one resident telling road.cc that you only have to look at the number of people visiting, spending money in the town to see the benefits, "especially after Covid, lockdowns, Brexit".
"In three days they can all go back to their boring lives," the local supermarket worker said of those complaining about the event's visit.
Meanwhile, one Scot, Jennifer, who randomly stumbled upon the races while spending a day in Glasgow with her granddaughters told us she "thinks it's great for Glasgow."
"It's good for the economy, to bring people in to see the city and what it can produce," she said.
Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.