As Harrogate's shops and its chamber of commerce considers how to make the most of the forthcoming massive UCI cycling championships, one worried independent business says it is planning close for all nine days.
When you think that the Tour de Yorkshire is usually watched on TV by 12.5 million viewers in 190 countries, imagine the size of the potential audience when the world championships of road cycling come Harrogate’s way come this September?
Running for nine days, as well as the best international cyclists from every cycling nation in the world and their support staff, there will be representatives of every cycling federation on the planet.
And that’s before you even factor in the thousands of spectators set to visit and stay in Harrogate.
Only one thing is exercising the minds of some of the small independent traders in Harrogate - road closures.
Although the high number of visitors staying in Harrogate’s hotels and guest houses is expected to boost the town centre, some are concerned that not everyone will benefit.
One business, in fact, has told the Harrogate Advertiser it is taking pro-active action and it intends to close for all nine days of the UCI Road World Championships.
What one Harrogate business says about UCI cyling event
Since Dangerfield & Keane: Harrogate Hair & Beauty Salon opened its doors 11 years ago at 44a Cold Bath Road, its popularity has resulted in staff numbers rising from four to 17.
But, from the information he has been able to find out so far about the daily effect on getting around in Harrogate during the UCIs, owner Gerri Dangerfield Keane says he has no choice but to be “pro-active” and shut up shop for the whole period.
He said: “The UCI will be a huge event for the town and it will raise the profile of Harrogate but it will be at a cost for small businesses like our’s.
“We’re not in retail or food and drink. Most of our clientele is repeat and they travel to get here.
“Three of my staff drive in from Leeds, another comes from Killinghall, another from Wetherby.
“If staff get here and there’s not enough clientele, that’s bad news. If the clientele get here but there’s not enough staff, that’s bad.
“It’s too much of a risk for my business to open. It’s too precarious.
“The brave decision, the pro-active decision is to close for the duration of the UCI, which is what I am doing.”
Mr Dangerfield Keane said he would be trying to get as many of his clients as possible to re-schedule their appointments either before or after the UCIs and for his staff to, hopefully, have their annual leave at that time.
He said he had got used to shorter events such as the Tour de Yorkshire impacting on his business.
He said: “Last weekend’s cycling event had a little bit of a negative effect on the business.
“The only good thing for us about the UCIs is it is a one-off.
“Thank goodness it’s not every year like the Tour de Yorkshire.”
Chamber of Commerce calls for better effort on road closures
One leading Harrogate business body supportive of events such as the UCI Road World Championships coming to Harrogate says it has some concerns.
Harrogate and District Chamber of Commerce president Steve Scarre said the opportunities would be there this September but that the inevitable road closures had to be handled well.
“The Chamber is very supportive of the cycling events coming to Harrogate. They bring many visitors with the UCI attracting hundreds of thousands.
“This can only be good for the local economy.
“Hotels, B&B’s and Restaurants will be the main beneficiaries but other town centre retailers, if they grasp the opportunity, should also benefit financially.
“People do remember back to 2014, the Tour de France when the road signage was something like “Town Centre Closed”.
“This was in respect of the road closures that were needed.
“I hope that the UCI organisers are making sure that the road closed signage is very clear that it is only the roads that are closed for a limited period and that the town centre is open for business.”