A new group has been formed with the aim of representing the local retailers.
The group is called Independent Harrogate (IH) and has around 100 members
Robert Ogden of Ogden jewellers said:
The campaign began because many independent businesses in Harrogate were getting frustrated at the issues affecting footfall in the town, particularly with regards to parking.
A group of over 100 retailers in Harrogate has got together, and we are keen to look at ways in which the issues in the town centre can be improved, as it seems to be losing its way at the moment.
We have strong support from the likes of Andrew Goodacre, the CEO of the British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA), and have garnered over 1500 signatures on a change.org petition.
The meeting with the BID was arranged in the hope that we can work closely together and in support of them, to boost the vibrancy and health of the town.
Recenlty members of Independent Harrogate (IH) had a meeting with the Harrogate BID and met the with their new manager, Elizabeth Murphy along with chairman John Fox.
IH say they were pleased to hear some detail of the ideas about how the BID levy payers’ money may be effectively invested to improve the vibrancy of Harrogate and its independent retail sector and that there was much common ground and optimism for future positive collaboration between the two groups.
A key area There was also lively discussion about parking in the town centre and representation of independent retailers on the BID Board.
IH understand that neither Harrogate Borough or North Yorkshire County Council are in favour of introducing free parking in the town centre but rather may be planning to increase parking fees and even extend restricted areas. That would be counter to central government’s National Planning Policy Framework, which states that local authorities should set appropriate parking charges that do not undermine the vitality of town centres.
Independent Harrogate member, William Woods said the group strongly agrees with the statement of Mary Portas in her review of town centres (The Portas Review) when she said “ … I fundamentally believe that to increase the cost of parking in a locality … is to curtail the appeal of that location and therefore the longer term economic viability of the area.”
IH have asked BID to actively support it in persuading the Local Authorities to increase free parking in the town centre and adopting some other of Portas’ recommendations, many of which have been endorsed by central government, to help improve its vibrancy and footfall.
IH also discussed with BID that although independent retailers are acknowledged to be a key part of Harrogate’s DNA there are currently none as directors on its Board, even though this is in its Business Plan.
IH said that they hope to actively help and support Harrogate BID and have asked it to adopt their free parking campaign and also to add up to three independent retailer directors to its Board.
John Fox, Chair of Harrogate BID said:
It was a useful meeting. We accept that they have a number of key objectives which they see could improve Harrogate.
I informed them that the Harrogate BID had already had discussions with a Government Minister regarding the high Business Rates which many businesses are struggling with.
On the subject of car parking the BID has already completed a face to face comprehensive survey of Harrogate businesses and convened a meeting with senior officers of North Yorkshire County Council and local businesses regarding car parking charges and issues.
We are meeting both North Yorkshire County Council and Harrogate Borough Council shortly to discuss the issues in the report.
The BID is working very hard with all local retailers across the BID area.