This is a crucial day for Harrogate's indie shops and here's why

Harrogate’s independent traders are waiting today to see if they have won representation on the board of a key business body with a potential budget of £3.3 million.

Thursday, 5th December 2019, 12:15 pm
Updated Thursday, 5th December 2019, 12:26 pm
Harrogate Business Improvement District's John Fox with the new Harrogate Gift Shop useable in lots of shops and businesses in Harrogate town centre.

The results of the board elections for Harrogate Business Improvement District are expected to be unveiled at Hotel du Vin today, Thursday, December 5, at the group’s first annual general meeting since it was launched at the start of the year.

Pressure group Independent Harrogate is hoping some of its 170-plus members will be among the new BID directors whose role is to strengthen the struggling retail sector by measures to improve footfall in the town centre.

If successful at today’s AGM, it will be the first time the ‘indies’ have been on the BID board since Hazel Barry, the owner of H2k skincare business, stepped down.

Although Independent Harrogate has expressed frustration at the lack of independent retailers on the BID board, it remains keen to see BID succeed.

A spokesperson for IH said: “We need all relevant local interests to pull together in the same direction and help to transform the fortunes of Harrogate,

“We are focused on working with BID, as they have the funds and ability to improve Harrogate.”

Over the remaining four years of Harrogate BID’s term, a levy on qualifying town centre businesses is expected to raise more than £3m, which will be re-invested by Harrogate BID in improving the prospects of Harrogate’s shops, hotels, bars and restaurants.

BID’s executive board, has been headed up by John Fox, a former Harrogate Borough councillor, mayor and chair of the Harrogate at Christmas Group, who spearheaded a successful ballot of businesses last year to create the organisation.

The board election comes after a challenging start for Harrogate BID, which was found itself under fire at first for what some traders said was a slowness in getting into action though recent weeks has seen a flurry of activity, including the launch of the Harrogate Gift Card for shops.

The mood in the business community was not helped when the BID’s first manager, Elizabeth Murphy, decided to quit after only three months.

To date, there has been no public announcement of her successor.