The Visit Harrogate column by Mike Newby
There are just over 100 days to go before stage two of the Tour de Yorkshire arrives in the Harrogate District. Once again national and international attention will be focused on our area with potentially 11.4 million global television viewers.
Has your business or community started planning? There are plenty of opportunities to take advantage of this event, particularly as we will host two races on Saturday.
The women’s race passes through in the morning followed by the men’s race in the afternoon on exactly the same route.
Why not make a day of it? What better way to hold on to visitors than by attracting them for the women’s race and then provide them with entertainment, food and drink until the men’s race?
There are a number of Tour de Yorkshire roadshows to help you plan scheduled for the district. The first is on Wednesday, January 18 at Ripon Town Hall from 6pm to 8pm. The following evening there will be one at the Cedar Court Hotel in Harrogate, again from 6pm to 8pm. These are followed by Masham Town Hall from 5pm to 7pm on Thursday, February 23 and the Council Chamber in Pateley Bridge on Tuesday, February 28 from 6pm to 8pm.
Others are planned so do look out for details about one near you. Each event will include a short presentation, detailed information about the route, advice on how to make the most of this world-class event and a Q&A session.
They will also give advice around brand guidelines and how your business, school or community can make the most of the Tour.
There is further information about these and other roadshows in the county on the Tour de Yorkshire website at www.letour.yorkshire.com/2017/roadshows.
Stray act consultation
330 years ago pioneer travel writer Celia Fiennes visited this area including the “Stincking spaw” in Harrogate, commenting that the waters “be a good Sort of Purge if you can hold your breath so as to drinke them down”, Ripon Market “where provisions are very plentifull and cheape” and Newby Hall which she described as “the ffinest house I saw in Yorkshire”.
Visitors have continued to come here and while many still visit Ripon market and Newby Hall few now seek effective purges. Indeed changing visitor expectations and competition from other areas means that Harrogate has had to reinvent itself over the years to maintain its profile and attract visitors.
One way is to host events such as this year’s Tour de Yorkshire. Of course some of these big events need to use the Stray, which is why the council’s current consultation is so important.
The Government has agreed to a temporary relaxation of some sections of the Stray Act for this year’s Tour but has indicated that it does not wish to keep granting special licences and that the council must seek a more permanent solution if the Stray is to be used more.
An increase to 35 days of active events (excluding set-up and dismantling) to support major events such as the Tour but also smaller events with a sporting, cultural, arts or music focus and for use by the community would provide the flexibility needed. Last week’s Advertiser gave a much-needed balanced approach to the debate, which is well worth reading.
The consultation finishes on Monday, February 6 with an online version at https://www.harrogate.gov.uk/strayact and paper copies available from the council’s Crescent Gardens offices in Harrogate.