Support is still growing for Independent Harrogate as the heat from the public over the state of Harrogate shows little signs of cooling.
Since it was launched less than a month ago, a total of 110 of Harrogate’s independent Harrogate shops, cafés and restaurants have joined the new pressure group which calls for improvements in the town centre.
Independent Harrogate is sticking to its call for there to be at least three independent traders on the board of Harrogate BID.
Robert Ogden, one of the group’s founding members said: “Harrogate is renowned for a brilliant, vibrant range of independent businesses, and it is one of the main reasons people cite for visiting the town.
“Although independent retailers are acknowledged to be a key part of Harrogate’s DNA there are currently none as directors on its Board, even though this is in its Business Plan.”
But their pleas are not guaranteed to be successful.
Harrogate BID, which is about to launch a new version of its website, says it already has one independent on its board. And John Fox, chair of Harrogate BID, has previously argued it was “working very hard with all local retailers across the BID area.”
Harrogate BID was launched earlier this year after a ballot of businesses in the BID area of Harrogate town centre last October produced a 82 per cent ‘yes’ vote on a turnout of 40 per cent of the ratable value of all businesses located in the Harrogate BID area.
While not everyone agrees with all of their aims, many Harrogate Advertiser readers appear to support Independent Harrogate’s ambition to make “small, simple changes which can make a huge difference to the health of the town centre.”
Reader Tim Walls in a letter to this week’s Harorgate Advertiser painted a damning picture of the town centre.
He said: “What would my dear old dad discover if he were alive in this summer of 2019? Shops empty and boarded up, the General Post Office stuffed away on the first floor of WH Smith, four weeks’ wait to see a GP, sacks of rubbish left against a doorway next to McDonalds, police conspicuous by their absence.”
Former Harrogate mayor, Coun Nick Brown, said he was now intending to join Independent Harrogate, partly because of its petition for free parking at change.org, which has now received 1,602 signatures.
In a letter to this week’s Advertiser, he said: “Further pedestrianisation of our shopping quarters together with the inexorable rise of parking charges will not help our hard pressed retail sector, who need to be profitable to survive.”
But even among groups working to make changes to Harrogate town centre to counter empty shop units, the call for three hours’ free parking is a controversial topic.
The likes of Harrogate BID (Business Improvement District) and Friends of Harrogate Town Centre are starting to come up with different answers to question marks over the good health of the town centre.
One reader Jeff Wormald said there was now a risk of “too many cooks.”
He wrote to us saying: “What we need is one group that can deliver on its town plan and is accountable for results.”
Write to: The State of Harrogate, Harrogate Advertiser, 55 Grove Road, Harrogate. HG15EP.
Facebook: Go to our Facebook page and join the debate on our Facebook Group ‘The State of Harrogate’: https://www.facebook.com/groups/351172958884308/