'Save Valley Gardens' plea as public meeting looms

Worried volunteers who look after the Valley Gardens are calling on the public to voice their feelings on the park's future.

Friday, 7th October 2016, 3:28 pm
Updated Tuesday, 25th October 2016, 3:01 pm
Unhappy Friends of the Valley Gardens - Chairman of the Friend of The Valley Gardens Jane Blayney with other volunteers. (1609277AM1)

Although the first-ever The StrEat Food and Family Fun Festival attracted 100,000 people over the August bank holiday weekend, charity group Friends of Valley Gardens say the damage left behind requires a change of policy.Most readers who posted on the Harrogate Advertiser's Facebook page were whole-heartedly in support of the event's return next year.And almost every respondent to a survey on the Harrogate Mumblers Facebook page also backed its return and Harrogate Borough Council's position on it.But Jane Blayney, chairman of FOVG, said the group was alarmed by the trend towards hosting more events in the beautiful Victorian park.Jane Blayney said: "We want to ascertain what the community wish for Valley Gardens which is why we are calling an Open Meeting next Thursday, October 20 at 6.30pm in Brostoff Hall St Peter’s Church Harrogate. Everyone is welcome to attend."Thousands enjoyed the event and rightly so but thousands did not see the devastation left behind."The event's organiser, Harrogate businesswoman Cathy McConagh, has already said she would learn the lessons of the first event and was keen to address any potential problems to prevent amy damage in future.Harrogate Borough Council, which licences such events, is keen to encourage Harrogate town centre as a whole to be a focus for public events to boost the economy and tourism.Although still in the discussion stage regarding the StrEat Food Festival, it looks likely to return to the Valley Gardens next year.But the Friends of Valley Gardens are hoping the public will back them at next week's open meeting to prevent what they argue are threats to the park's future.Jane Blayney said: "The administration of our town has to decide their future plans for Valley Gardens. Other towns and cities have their very popular ‘Food Street Festivals’ in their streets, which are more suited for heavy vehicles, the British weather and the events’ popularity. "The Flower Show was moved from the Valley Gardens, due to its increased popularity and the unsuitability that developed of the Valley Gardens’ site to host it. "This is the situation in the case of the StrEat Food Fest.""If you wish the Valley Gardens to maintain its national and regional ranking in In Bloom competitions, a reputation which attracts hundreds of visitors to the town and is reflected in FOVG vistors’ books, then events such as the Food Festival need re-siting."A highly dedicate group of volunteers who do much work to improve Valley Gardens for the community, FVOG usually work hand-in-hand with Harrogate Borough CouncilThe Friends recently lodged two funding applications in partnership with the council totalling more than £140,000 to restore the Green Park Entrance (to be known as the King Edward Memorial Gate) and the Japanese Garden.