City Matters column with Alan Weston

Olympian Jack Laugher.
Olympian Jack Laugher.

Preparing for the recent Annual Parish Meeting was an opportunity review the year gone and what has been achieved by the City Development Team.

As usual, it has certainly been a wide and varied year.

At a strategic level, the City Plan has continued to be a major piece of work and the production of the draft Ripon City Plan represented a significant milestone.

Work with the volunteer City Plan team to analyse feedback from the consultation, make amendments to the plan and prepare the Plan for formal submission remains on-going.

In addition, we have worked to support the establishment and formation of the Ripon Community Interest Company, branded Ripon Together.

The first months have been about starting-up the company, and securing resources to start to deliver activities.

This has allowed us to implement a digital marketing and promotion project using over £4,500 of funding from Harrogate Borough Council, other funding has been secured from Ripon City Council for projects and from Econ Engineering Limited to support the Tour de Yorkshire activities. Grant applications have also been submitted for other projects but unfortunately additional resources have not yet been secured.

The introduction of the Partnership Delivery Fund has enabled Ripon City Council to provide support to several organisations to assist with city development.

Ripon in Bloom have been given money to continue to improve the visual appearance throughout the city; Citizens Advice Bureau have been given funding to provide access to free, independent, confidential and impartial advice; Harrogate and Ripon Centres for Voluntary Service are acting as a lead to support the voluntary and community sector, and; the Ripon Library Action Group have been given a contribution for their work in recruiting and managing volunteers to keep the facility open.

Events during the year included the Queen’s 90th Birthday celebrations in Spa Gardens and Spa Park with the Lord Lieutenant’s parade and service at Ripon Cathedral. Later in the year and the Christmas Lights Switch On also provided an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of Jack Laugher at the Olympics and the following week the Kirkgate Christmas Market took place.

And, just a few weeks ago, following hours and weeks of planning the Market Place was buzzing with a vibrant and attractive market, fantastic music and children’s activities and entertainment as the Tour de Yorkshire came to Ripon, passing through the heart of the city.

Our promotional activity using the Discover Ripon brand has continued to strengthen.

We produced our seasonal What’s On guides and distributed these through the Tourist Information Centre, through the schools and at places where visitors stay including hotels and caravan parks.

We increased our digital marketing during the year and commissioned short videos to promote the Ripon Market.

In 11 months the two videos had been viewed over 11,000 times on the Discover Ripon You Tube Channel.

In addition almost 2,400 now like our Discover Ripon Facebook page and over 3,200 follow our twitter feed.

These, together with the Discover Ripon website are used to promote the city, and its events, activities and organisations.

I must take this opportunity to thank all those people throughout the year that have volunteered and helped us. Quite simply we couldn’t do it without you. Often working behind the scenes there is a great deal of activity you help us with, because you, like us, want to see Ripon succeed and be a thriving and vibrant place.

Finally, in the last couple of weeks the City Development Team have also moved offices and can now be found at Hugh Ripley Hall. Our new contact details are: Discover Ripon Office, Hugh Ripley Hall, Skellbank, Ripon, North Yorkshire, HG4 2PT, our new telephone number is 01765 804080 and you can still email us at: info@discoverripon.org