The sole aim of IH so far is to help regenerate Harrogate’s town centre and return it to its former glory. This has resulted in our concentrating our efforts on two strands – 1. Harrogate’s parking regime, and 2. what is being done with our (the BID levy payers) money?
Since the last update we have had a meeting with Andrew Jones MP and been in contact with other influential people and another local BID. We have meetings arranged in the near future with the leaders of Harrogate Borough Council and North Yorkshire County Council. The CEO of the British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA) is coming from the south especially for our meeting with HBC.
Until we have had a meeting with NYCC we will not know how hard the fight will have to be for a better parking regime that will encourage more coming and going of traffic into the town centre. We do know that others in North Yorkshire are having similar struggles which seem mainly to revolve around the loss of revenue to the County Council.
We have made no more progress to get independent retailer directors onto the board of Harrogate BID Ltd. BID continues to say that you are represented by an independent retailer Director who has a cafe. This is nonsense. We continue to make the point to everyone we meet that the BID literature indicated that there would be three Independent Retailers on the Board and that our efforts to get this to happen have been rebuffed by BID. We do not understand why the depth of experience of independent retailers is being rejected, yet national retailer directors from Primark, M&S and the Victoria Centre are on the Board. As things stand we do not have any input into BID’s plans or how our money is being spent. We see independent retailers as being the true DNA of Harrogate – the situation is frustrating and illogical.
We should not be having to do the above on your behalf. Mary Portas in her Review of High Streets, endorsed by the government, said that the regeneration of high streets requires a functioning Town Team, with all relevant interests pulling together in the same direction to make the right changes. Logic says that our BID, with £3,000,000 of our money to spend over 5 years, should be the core of a Harrogate Town Team, but as things are at present it is not suited to the task. Well set up BIDs in other towns have shown what is possible. Happily, as a result of our advocacy we are now not the only people who understand this problem.
Also relevant to parking is the recent “Harrogate retail enquiry” commissioned by Andrew Jones, who confirmed when we met him that it had only surveyed residents within Harrogate. It is our view that the report has no real relevance to the parking issues we are pursuing. Neither retailers, visitors nor people needing to park in the town centre who live and work in the rural and semi-rural areas around the town were surveyed. Because of this we contend that many of the statistics in, and conclusions of, the survey are of very limited value and it cannot be used as the basis for future parking policy planning.
We will update you again soon, and if any of you would like any more information or wish to help, please let me know.
William E. Woods