Harrogate’s two main political parties have issued rival pleas for the public to play a major role in a new vision for the troubled town centre.
In the wake of the Harrogate Advertiser’s campaign to raise awareness of the problems plaguing the Harrogate’s high street, the leaders of both the Conservative and Lib Dems have come up with their own versions of what may end up as similar solutions.
The Friends of Harrogate Town Centre is looking for support from the public to compile the first-ever ‘Town Centre Audit’ of every street in the town centre.
Led partly by Coun Richard Cooper, the Tory leader of Harrogate Borough Council, the recently-formed umbrella group for existing community organisations would use the results to make necessary improvements.
On the other side of Harrogate’s political divide, the Lib Dems are calling for the creation of a ‘Town Team’ to revive the town centre for the benefit of all.
Writing in this week’s Harrogate Advertiser Coun Pat Marsh, leader of the Lib Dems on Harrogate Borough Council, said: “We will need walking audits to help build a vision with street stalls to talk to residents and visitors, which would help create an action plan.”
The outbreak of a non-partisan approach by competing politicians reflects a snowballing of concern across the wider community about the town centre as it faces the tricky challenges of austerity, Brexit and the popularity of online shopping.
But, in this fight for the future health of the town centre, none of the increasing number of groups gearing up to address the problems believes it’s a battle which can’t be won.
The director of the town’s official tourism body, Visit Harrogate says Harrogate is still punching above its weight and optimism remains strong.
Richard Spencer said: “Harrogate is still performing above the national average. It is important to note the incredible work in the town that keeps it so competitive and attractive to visitors and tourists.”