UCI harrogate
West Park, footbridge construction for UCI

New report on the impact of the UCI cycle event on Harrogate fails to address impact on local business

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On Monday, 4 July 2022, The Overview and Scrutiny  Commission for Harrogate Borough Council met and considered a report on the UCI Road Championship in Harrogate.

The 9-day event caused major disruption to the town. A main route into Harrogate, the West Park, was closed for the week coming up to the event to allow for infrastructure.

The event was hosted by Yorkshire 2019 (a subsidiary of HM Government established specifically for the event) for Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), with support from many other
partners including Harrogate Borough Council.

The report is titled DRAFT Final Report – Overview and Scrutiny Commission Task and Finish Group Review of“Hosting the UCI Road World Championships”

The report was led by Councillor Nick Brown, Chair of the UCI Task and Finish Group, and there were task members of Councillor Bernard Bateman, Councillor Sue Lumby,  Councillor Pat Marsh, Councillor Tom Watson and Councillor Robert Windass.

A key area for many businesses in Harrogate was the negative impact the event had on trade.  This report acknowledges that there was a report titled “Economic Impact” that report failed to look at the impact on local business, and focused on visitor economy. This report didn’t take that any further.

The event was not ticketed and there was unrestricted access. The Group noted it was very difficult to predict visitor numbers for these type of events. Rain impacted visitor numbers part-way through, causing the closure of the fan zone on the West Park Stray. There are various guesses as to the visitor numbers, but nothing definitive.

In terms of wider benefit, it is believed the event contributed to inspiring people to take up cycling.

The report doesn’t make reference to significant longer-term benefit of the event to the town, this was a key area pitched by Yorkshire 2019, who indicated that the gains wouldn’t necessarily be during the event itself.

The report apparently plays down the negative impact of the event:

The study noted that there were some negative consequences expressed by Harrogate residents who were surveyed, where some respondents were critical of the inconvenience and disruption due to the prolonged road closures.

The study also highlighted concerns about the damage to the Stray and that it was unusable
for a period of time after the event

Feedback showed that only around half that responded were able to make arrangements to carry out their usual activities during the event.

The report has more of a focus on external factors, such as the number of new visitors to the town.

UCI cycling harrogate

The main findings of the report:

  • Due to the significant impact within the Harrogate district, there was a unanimous view that Harrogate Borough Council should have been represented on the ‘Yorkshire 2019’ Board of Directors (had a seat around the table for decision-making)
  • Economic impact of the UCI  was highlighted by the report title referred to “economic impact” however it was more specifically focussed on the visitor economy, rather than local business.
  • The total value of financial assistance offered by HBC was £417.5k, the total actual costs listed in the cost review document were £657,160 (this figure includes £60k of staffing costs as offered)
  • HBC was able to secure £637k of funding from Leeds City Rates (LCR) business rates pool, this was to deliver parallel cultural activities and economic development projects.
  • HBC generated some other income totalling around £27.3k from additional car park hire, venue hire and co-branding.
  • Costs for Stray reinstatement  total cost up to the end of January 2020 was £51.5k
  • The public consultation undertaken by the Group showed that whilst 98% of respondents overall were aware of the event before it happened, only 54% reported they were able to make arrangements to carry out their usual activities during the event (looking at the 79 responses from organisations this reduces to 35%). This could indicate that there was a lack of awareness or engagement with practical information about the event.

Attached below are two reports, the executive summary, and the full, currently draft, report.

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