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

Harrogate Borough Council 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 Stray
  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 event. What would you say to them and will you help them in any way ?

Harrogate Borough Council did not organise the event and North Yorkshire County Council we’re responsible for highways closures.  On any aspects of the event for which Harrogate Borough Council we’re responsible – such as litter collection, reinstatement of the Stray, 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 highways 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 planning 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 cycling, 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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