Harrogate town centre: BID takes a lead

Harrogate BID team chair John Fox
Harrogate BID team chair John Fox

Since it was formed in February, the Harrogate BID Task Group has made quick progress towards its hoped-for destination - persuading Harrogate to join the 300 or so towns and cities in the UK who’ve become a Business Improvement District.

The end result is more than a name. The goal is to make tangible improvements to enhance the business environment.

A BID ballot of Harrogate businesses is expected to be held in November.

If successful, a levy will then be set on local businesses to fund agreed projects for the common good, though any firms with a rateable value of under £20,000 will be exempt.

With key stakeholders including Harrogate Borough Council, Harrogate District Chamberof Commerce and North Yorkshire County Council and team members including senior figures from Marks & Spencer, Victoria Shopping Centre, Bettys and more, Harrogate BID is already building momentum.

Harrogate BID team chair John Fox said: “The loss of national and regional retailers from Harrogate is a result of a combination of internet shopping and high business rates. It is not a issue that either Harrogate Borough Council or the Harrogate BID can change.

“Instead, we see the BID as supporting the town centre businesses, bringing events to the streets of Harrogate to increase footfall.

“What we can do is look at reassessment of business rates as a group and we are currently discussing this.

“And the BID will be able to procure bulk services for all businesses to opt in.

“We’ve spent several months consulting local businesses on what they see a BID could do for Harrogate.

“We are now going through all the comments to prepare the Draft Summary Business Plan which will be circulated shortly to businesses for comment and approval.

More information on the Harrogate BID is available at www.harrogatebid.co.uk

As part of the growing pressure for town centre improvements and new ideas to support it, the Harrogate Advertiser is asking readers to complete our survey.

The aim of our survey is to give enable the public to have their say on positive ideas to improve Harrogate town centre.

To make your voice heard, simply fill in our survey form and send it to us by Friday, August 24.

The results will be published in this newspaper and your views will also be presented to Harrogate Borough Council, the BID team, Harrogate District Chamber of Commerce and Visit Harrogate.