Unless you live in Welwyn Garden City, you’ve probably never heard of Martyn Levitt. He is one of the city’s councillors and, as such, you’d have thought he’d be a man with a good understanding of the issues that affect modern society. Things like how a sedentary life style causes poor health, which in turn causes misery and detriment to the economy, for example. Perhaps you’d also expect him to understand that encouraging people to live a more active lifestyle is a good way to prevent all that, and that a very good way to encourage people to be more active is by promoting sport.
Not Mr Levitt, though. Mr. Levitt proved he’s entirely incapable of understanding all this when he spoke to local newspaper the Welwyn Hatfield Times recently on the topic of the Women’s Tour, which has become the most talked-about cycling race to have taken place in Britain for many years – and is one of the most talked-about races in the cycling world overall.
For Mr. Levitt, the Tour is not exciting, nor fun, nor a superb way to encourage more of the population he serves to get on their bikes and enjoy all the myriad benefits that cycling brings. Oh no. For him,the £50,000 that Welwyn’s council put towards the race is all just a waste of money.
“When I have been a councillor for Haldens, I have wanted to get litter bins and I can’t get litter bins, I’m told we don’t have money. But we have money to fritter away on this,” Mr. Levitt told the newspaper, which also published a rebuke from a council spokesperson.
“The Tour of Britain had Bradley Wiggins and Mark Cavendish, household names. It got very little television coverage, what hope is there [that the Women’s Tour] will raise £50,000?”
Ultimately, it shouldn’t matter to the likes of Mr. Levitt whether his council is paid back the full sum it has put towards the Tour because it’s been shown time and time again that the more people cycle, the better off a town becomes – roads require less maintenance and fewer car parks need to be built, efforts to monitor and limit air pollution can be scaled back and if even a few of the locals who see it fall in love with cycling and decide to get out on the bike once in a while, the likely savings for the local health authorities are far greater than £50,000. What’s more, those people will be healthier and happier – and you can’t put monetary value on that.
Mr. Levitt says that come the local elections in May, he will step down. That’s all for the best, because he has no idea what he’s talking about.
Welwyn residents who would like to exercise their right to tell Mr. Levitt why he’s wrong can find his contact details on the council’s website.