At the beginning of this week members of Independent Harrogate (IH), who represent over a hundred independent retailers in the town centre, held a very positive meeting with the new manager of BID Harrogate, Elizabeth Murphy, and its chairman John Fox. It is early days for Elizabeth who is just settling into her job, but IH were pleased to hear some detail of her ideas about how the BID levy payers’ money may be effectively invested to improve the vibrancy of Harrogate and its independent retail sector – there was much common ground and optimism for future positive collaboration between IH and BID. There was also lively discussion about parking in the town centre and representation of independent retailers on the BID Board.
IH understand that neither Harrogate Borough Council nor NYCC are in favour of introducing free parking in the town centre but rather may be planning to increase parking fees and even extend restricted areas, running counter to central government’s National Planning Policy Framework, which states that local authorities should set appropriate parking charges that do not undermine the vitality of town centres. William Woods of IH made clear that IH strongly agrees with the statement of Mary Portas in her review of town centres (The Portas Review) when she said “ … I fundamentally believe that to increase the cost of parking in a locality … is to curtail the appeal of that location and therefore the longer term economic viability of the area.” IH asked BID to actively support it in persuading the Local Authorities to increase free parking in the town centre and adopting some other of Portas’ recommendations, many of which have been endorsed by central government, to help improve its vibrancy and footfall.
IH also discussed with BID that although independent retailers are acknowledged to be a key part of Harrogate’s DNA there are currently none as directors on its Board, even though this is in its Business Plan.
IH hope to actively help and support Harrogate BID and have asked it to adopt their free parking campaign and also to add up to three independent retailer directors to its Board.