In an interesting move, the Harrogate BID have released a press release from the PR agency they employ, insisting that North Yorkshire County Council and Harrogate Borough Council should “Cut red tape to help reopen town’s vital hospitality & leisure businesses”.
The BID also believes that “Harrogate’s economy will be irreparably damaged” if red tape isn’t cut.
It’s interesting in that the Harrogate BID is of course made up, in-part, of North Yorkshire County Council and Harrogate Borough Council, so they are, in a way, calling on something that they should or could facilitate themselves.
The Harrogate BID collects over £500K of BID Levy Fees from the town centre businesses in the Levy Zone – ultimately it is the levy payers they should be accountable for how that money is spent.
- The town’s BID say they have been in discussion with both local authorities to help speed up the application process for businesses to be given permission to utilise pavement space so they can also reopen in a fortnight.
- Whilst Harrogate Borough Council is responsible for granting the premises licence, the county council is the authority that licenses the use of pavements.
- The BID board say it is concerned that if the hospitality industry isn’t supported, there is a danger that Harrogate’s economy will be irreparably damaged.
It’s not clear which businesses would benefit from the further use of pavement space, as many that likely could use pavement space, already do so.
In response to the suggestion that red tape needs to be cut, we spoke to Don Mackenzie the NYCC Councillor responsible for Highways.
Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Access, North Yorkshire County Council, said:
Our highways team based at the Harrogate Area Office in Boroughbridge are in active discussions with the Borough Council, with BID members and with individual hospitality businesses in the town to identify opportunities to create additional outdoor space for tables.
There are clearly possibilities to widen footpaths by taking space from roads. If such measures can be taken safely and be agreed by all parties, then I see no reason why we will not go ahead with them.
The town’s hospitality businesses need support and we intend to help.
Harrogate BID Acting Chair Sara Ferguson said:
As the owner of two town centre hospitality businesses, I know how important it is to open our doors safely as soon as possible.
Whilst I am in the fortunate position of having limited outside space at both venues, there are many others that don’t, but they all have one thing in common –they front on to footpaths.
If they are given permission to utilise these spaces, then they can then open along with the rest of us on 4 July.
We have already asked both authorities for their helpin achieving this, but for them to do this, they need to take a bold and radical approach, and cut through the red tape.
At the same time we can hopefully save a number of business that are currently under the threat of permanent closure, and the jobs that go with them.
Harrogate BID Interim Manager Simon Kent said:
Now the shops have opened, which is fantastic news – our focus is now fixed on the vital hospitality and leisure industry.
People come to Harrogate for a variety of reasons. Some come to enjoy the tranquillity of the gardens and open spaces or to attend festivals, events and exhibitions, others the variety of shops. But for many the magnet is the wealth of pubs, bars and restaurants.
It has been mooted that premises with outdoor seating areas, or beer gardens, will be able to re-open on Saturday, 4 July, to offer a socially-distanced food and beverage service – but those without will either may have to remain closed for the time being, or continue offering takeaway services.