Harrogate District Chamber of Commerce News

CEO Report December,January & February 2020

17 Feb 2020 by Sandra Doherty

Steve and I had an interesting meeting with a group of Independent retailors who were interested in what we as a Chamber felt about the number of empty shops in town centre.  The amount of empty shops is slightly higher than normal but not dramatically so. It is more to do with the placement of these empty shops. James Street has been very fortunate that it hasn’t suffered in the past, whereas now there are several both on James Street and Parliament Street. They are looking at ways to reduce these vacancy’s and encourage people to visit the town centre

Steve and I met with Paula Lorimer – Director HHC and Ian Kidson – Marketing Manager HCC. Both were very forthright in their estimation of how much work needs doing to get the Convention Centre back into profit.  Paula has a plan for redevelopment work which involves making the internal spaces into better usable areas to encourage the types of bookings that are on the market at the moment.

The survey being completed about the Future of Harrogate is now well underway. I have been interviewed separately and Martin Gerrard had attended the group discussion.

The January Meeting headed up by Zero Carbon seems to have been well attended. Thanks to Vicky and Martin & Sam for sorting out the presentations and organisation. I do seem to always be away for this meeting so thanks to Steve for running again.

I have now been to a couple of BID Clubs – This is where BID Levey payers are encouraged to attend and share their ideas and concerns with Board Members. 

I was invited to meet with Wallace Sampson for a catch up as we haven’t met up in quite a while officially.   On the morning Richard Cooper joined us so it was quite an interesting meeting.

The Council have used some of their discretionary budget to join with NYCC who are ultimately responsible to paint the town centre lampposts and look at the replacement of areas of block paving which have been replaced by tarmac when repairs have taken place.

The problems on parking, traffic lights and congestion are being looked at by NYCC now that the proposed by-pass has been rejected.

A proposal for a group of businesses to join with the Economic Development Unit to encourage and engage with businesses thinking of moving to Harrogate is being looked at.

Inevitably the state of the Stray was brought up. Work by a well thought of within the soil preparation industry and localish (Ilkley) will begin work in March (weather dependent) and will undertake more than just a quick fix. They will look at providing better drainage especially at the top edge by West Park and ensuring the soil quality and type of grass are suitable for use in the future. The Stray will not be looking good this year and will be well into next year before the work is complete.

HBC are going to arrange via tender several events in the town to encourage more visitors.

I also received an invite to Horticultural Futures – another HBC initiative looking at Bio Diversity of Council owned green spaces, parks and verges. Carolyn Baylis and Pam Grant were there from Harrogate in Bloom. It was good to hear that despite their decision not to enter for any awards this year due to the state of the Stray. They will still be putting effort into keeping Harrogate the floral town we love.

Working at Crown Jewellers for 3 weeks has given me an insight on just how quiet the town is at this time of year. Although it has been useful to meet some of the town centre traders who apart from finding it amusing that I am working there find it impressive that I have taken an interest and have taken the opportunity to pop in for a chat.