These franchises have now been withdrawn.
A spokesperson for the council said:
The council’s decision to franchise the use of Stray land has been challenged and reviewed in accordance with the council’s complaints procedure.
The council’s officers believed that it had the power under the Act to charge for the letting of franchises for use of The Stray for commercial undertakings as well as for ‘circuses, fairs, shows and other public entertainments’ which are specifically authorised under the Act.
Further investigations have been carried out and the view taken is that the decision to charge is unclear in relation to activities such as fitness businesses operating on The Stray.
The council does have an obligation under the Harrogate Stray Act 1985 to ’maintain and preserve the aspect of the Stray’. To achieve this, it is necessary to manage organisations that are providing formal activities on The Stray and to grant them permission, subject to various conditions, to ensure that The Stray is not damaged and public access is maintained.
The council’s decisions are always open to challenge and in this particular case we think that our original decision was incorrect. Consequently, the earlier decision to enter into formal paid arrangements has been rescinded. In future, organisations will be able to operate on The Stray free of charge subject to a small administration fee and licence.
Should anyone be considering running events on The Stray it is important that they contact the council so that it can comply with its obligations under the Act and continue to make sure this wonderful facility is maintained to the high standards everyone expects.