This was a planned meeting that had ballooned after the event itself, with over 100 attending. Steve Scarre, the President of the Harrogate District Chamber chaired, the event.
Although the meeting had been called to look at both the benefits and losses of the event, the comments were overwhelmingly negative.
Businesses reported significant loss in trade and in many cases that meant it wasn’t worth staying open.
The question of compensation came up with various opinions voiced. The Harrogate District Chamber were in favour of discussion with Harrogate Borough Council, while others wanted a more robust approach with the withholding of business rates or even legal action.
That then led to the discussion as to responsibility for bringing the event to the town. It was not clear if that was Harrogate Borough Council, although they have said that they are only a partner to the event.
- Some said that there had been an overly positive media campaign, often pushing that shops needed to exploit the opportunity that was in front of them.
- A business on commercial street said that on the Monday of the event they did no business at all and took the decision to close. They felt that they were just the collateral damage and didn’t want further cycle events
- A percentage of the fan park should have been local business
- Businesses should refuse to pay rates for 3-weeks as a protest
- It was noted that although the event itself was 21 to 29 September for West Park it has been 18 to 3 October.
- Acknowledgement of a need to take action as a group
- They felt the event had been oversold
- HDC said that they would take comments, collate them and put them before Harrogate Borough Council
- There was also a proposal that there needed to be more legal action against Harrogate Borough Council, for loss of trade
- There was discussion over who was responsible for bringing the event to the town
- It was noted that schools and the elderly on Cold Bath road were “held hostage” during the event
- It was noted that generally existing customers kept away and the UCI visitors weren’t new customers
- It was commented that HBC have lost my support, confidence and belief that they will do the right thing for me
- Stray Defence Association said that there had been limited consultation on the use of the Stray and that they had referred it to the Chief Solicitor of the Duchy of Lancaster
- Some car parks had been closed and then left empty
- Tour de France was sold as a once in a lifetime, that was just a couple of days, and then along came the Tour de Yorkshire and the Big Bike Bash
- Harrogate is being used as a toytown backdrop and that it is a living breathing, working town
- Harrogate Borough Council have paid for the event with the misery of local business
Those speaking were mainly from retail, generally talking about reductions in trade of over 70%.
Hotels were not knowingly represented at the meeting, although as a gorup they were expected to do better, they didn’t fair as well as expected. The forecast of every room in the town being taken simply didn’t happen and it was easy to find a room.
Shops of all size know what their turnover will be. Larger stores use sophisticated forecasting applications and smaller shops know what their turnover will be as they live and breathe their businesses.
The Harrogate District Chamber will now collate views and comments.
Please contact Steve Scarre, Harrogate District Chamber firstname.lastname@example.org