Economic losses by local traders not our responsibility say Harrogate Borough Council

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have responded to a number of questions that we put to them over the UCI Cycle Race.

Cllr Richard Cooper, the Leader of the Council has responded with the Council’s position in a number of areas.

In summary, their responses:

  1. Any responsibility of loss from local business is not with HBC
  2. It is HBC’s responsibility to restore the damage to the
  3. They have refused to answer how the authority made the decision to support Harrogate being the hub town for the UCI
  4. Their main issue on communications was around bin collections

Cllr Richard Cooper gave us the following answers.

How do you believe the UCI went ?

I wish the weather had not been so terrible, so much worse than normal, so that we could have made an assessment under normal conditions.

However, it seemed to me if you look at social media, and on the Harrogate Informer survey, the clear majority of people felt it went well, enjoyed it and thought it raised the profile of the town.

At a recent meeting of local business, many said they had lost significantly due to the UCI . What would you say to them and will you help them in any way ?

did not organise the and North Yorkshire County Council we’re responsible for closures.  On any aspects of the event for which Harrogate Borough Council we’re responsible – such as litter collection, reinstatement of the , street trading consents and others – we will of course respond to feedback.

At that meeting, there were many that wanted a meeting with HBC so they could put questions to you directly, would you agree to that ?

I am very happy to discuss aspects of any of Harrogate Borough Council’s responsibilities with any one who wishes to contact me about them. For event organisation and closures though these should be addressed to the organisations responsible.

What is your view on the damage to the Stray, who will pay for it to be repaired ?

The weather really didn’t help the Stray and, like with the Great Yorkshire Show, a few years ago, we need to work hard to reinstate it.  Our staff will be on it as soon as we regain access to assess what needs to be done and how much it will cost.

We will look at all sources of funding but reinstatement is ultimately the Borough Council’s responsibility.

HBC has engaged a consultancy to look at the benefits of the UCI to the town, how will they undertake that .

HBC has contributed to the costs of an economic impact study.  The consultancy, Ernst & Young, will conduct the study according to industry standards and it would be wrong for me to prescribe how it should be done as someone who is not an expert in this field.

When HBC wrote a letter of support for the UCI and to be a hub town, how did you know that was the right decision for the town ?

Whatever one’s view of the event, it is undeniable that it brought a great many visitors to town and I have already had emails, and seen on social media, that many are to come back.  Appearing for nine days solid on the main TV channels of 60 countries with around 200 million people watching is publicity for our town that you simply cannot buy.

What do you believe will be the longer term economic gain to the town ?

Even a small uplift in the amount of tourism to the town sustained over a long period will have a huge impact on the economic stability of Harrogate.

Was there sufficient engagement with the general public ?

In terms of things the Borough Council are responsible for I believe there was.  Our main issue was bin collections and I think we communicated the revised dates and arrangements we’ll because collection rates for domestic and trade waste throughout the event were high.

In terms of road closures, security, business engagement etc this is something you would need to address to those who are responsible for those aspects.

Did HBC give Yorkshire2019 everything they asked for and do you think your represented the local residents well ?

HBC were clear from the outset of their responsibilities and what they were expected to deliver.  To the best of my knowledge Yorkshire2019 have no complaints and our primary responsibility now is reinstating the Stray.

 

Harrogate Informer Opinion by Tim Cook, Editor

When Harrogate Borough Council phoned me at 8am the morning after the UCI had finished, telling me that they hadn’t brought the UCI to Harrogate and that they were just a partner, alarm bells rang.

It is clear that the people that attended enjoyed it, it is not clear on what numbers they attended in comparison to forecast. It is also clear that most local businesses didn’t make financial gain from the event and many made losses.

HBC is refusing to divulge how the decision was made to support the UCI coming to the town. The decision warranted a level of analysis and engagement with the town. There is no visibility of the process that they went through. But I have no doubt that they will have done it in, what they believed at the time, was in the best interest of the town.

From the point of the decision being made they spent two years telling everyone the event was going to be great for the town. They paid a PR company to tell local business how to maximise the opportunity, yet now distance themselves from responsibility of economic gain or loss for local business.

If you liked , it was a great event. From our survey people said they enjoyed it and the road closures were managed well, just overly lengthy and debilitating for the town.

HBC, as an Authority,  should represent the best interests of the town. I think it is likely that they made a decision at the time that they saw as the best one for the town, but were massively oversold it as an event by the organisers.

Now we are left with a large number of unhappy businesses that are looking to the council for action, but a council that is saying their responsibilities are strictly ringfenced.




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8 Comments

  1. Why should the restoration of the Stray be at the cost of the Taxpayer? It was clearly the responsibility of Yorkshire 2019 to adequately protect the Stray. Para 4.32 refers directly to this: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/802182/Explanatory_Document_-_The_Harrogate_Stray_Act_1985__UCI_Road_World_Championships__Order_2019.pdf?fbclid=IwAR3VfQHceVEm1jwuWl4tweR2ZSxG69HHUSf1VufZMNvo3DOfb5_UAZbMX9E

    • Unfortunately not, the Order does include a requirement for HBC to restore the damage. However it could be argued that the Yorkshire 2019 had failed in its duty to “adequately protect the Stray”, leaving them open to a claim for damages.

      • Thanks for the clarification. That’s was what I was trying to get at, unfortunately I phrased my question poorly.

    • Very informative,
      I notice that permission to use the Stray was given on several assumptions, one of which was
      “the capacity to maintain business as usual in the face of road closures”
      Page 5 clause 4.2
      I would suggest that this would be the starting point of anyone wanting to take legal proceedings against HBC for loss of business, as this assurance in the application was clearly disregarded at best and probably knowingly unachievable.
      Page 19 clause 4.19
      “No roads will be closed for the entire period of the Championships“
      Page 21 clause 4.32
      High-traffic areas (where vehicles are moving) will have greater protection and the site plan designs are based on keeping the heaviest pieces of equipment and infrastructure off the grass and on the highway network. The costs for the protective measures will be borne by Yorkshire 2019 Ltd and are not the burden of the local council tax payer.

      So while Yorkshire 2019 desperately try to distance themselves from their financial responsibility to reinstate the Stray, seems it was one of the T and Cs that thy all signed up to.
      I think HBC should remind them of this and threaten legal action should they try and run away..

  2. It seems nobody wants to take responsibility for anything. They want to gloss over it. I heard one woman from the council trying to say it was sucessfuil and brought money. In terns of buisness loss its more than the £100000 the council put in. In my opinion one of there biggest misstakes was not factoring in how people were going to get here. !!!!

  3. It is always the same with public bodies, when things go right they want the credit,conversley when things don’t go as well as expected they pass the buck.The only sure thing is we the public pay.

  4. It is all very well talking about the losses in Harrogate itself, but what about businesses in surrounding areas? My husband had to cancel a job on one day because he couldn’t get in and out of the area because of Road closures. There were businesses in Tadcaster who were reporting reduced takings because of their closures too. I am guessing they should approach Yorkshire2019?

  5. Coming from the point of view of an American bicycle racing viewer, living way over in Southwest Florida, I can tell you that if it were not for the good work of all those involved in making Harrogate a hub of the race, including the hard working public servants of the HBC, I would never of even known that Harrogate existed and how beautiful of a town it is. It is beautiful. Harrogate is now on my map as a town to visit and stay for a while. Coming from the point of view as a former economics researcher for my county government, I can tell you that the event is guaranteed to have been an economic plus for Harrogate, despite potential individual loses. Harrogate brand recognition alone makes the effort well worth the hard work. The HBC is correct in that the economic impact is not their responsibility. Events like these have three economic segments; the planning, the execution and the follow-up. Money can be made at all three stages. It is now up to the merchants of Harrogate to band together and take advantage of the exposure. The HBC and Yorkshire2019, as well as any other contributors to the event did their job in acquiring the race and executing the plan, now the merchants need to capitalize on it. When you “build it”, even if they come, you have to be able to follow-up correctly to realize the full benefit of your efforts once they are gone. Timing is critical though, if businesses wait too long, they will miss the opportunity as the momentum will be lost. They must act fast while the race is fresh in the minds of attendees and viewers and it can still be viewed from time to time on television.

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