Most of you will already know that there were substantial changes at BID last week. We at last, from 1 January, have two Independent Harrogate directors on the BID board, Robert Ogden and Bob Kennedy, together with Chris Bentley, the landlord of a number of shops in the town centre and Mark Young of The Ivy who have been actively helping us, Rob Spencer of Townhouse and Sara Ferguson of Sasso. We have had meetings with other newly appointed directors, and some ‘old’ ones who are still on the board, and we know that there are now a substantial number of directors of BID who hold very similar views to us about the need to use the levy money more effectively to help transform the fortunes of the town.
The other major change at BID is that its Chairman, John Fox, is resigning at the end of the year. As he has been at the heart of running the BID since its inception the new board are going to have to assess the present situation in BID and put a new management structure in place. We believe that it could well take at least two or three months to do this properly, and therefore we shouldn’t expect to see much in the way of new initiatives until this has been done. In our view there needs to be a thorough review of what has been done during BID’s first year before any new initiatives are planned.
We have also had a recent meeting with the Harrogate Chamber of Commerce and we are pleased to report that we and they seem to be in total agreement that we need to work as fast as practically possible towards a ‘Town Team’ of all the talents, ideally with BID and its funds at its core. We are cautiously optimistic that this is now closer to becoming a reality.
BID is there for the benefit of businesses in the levy area and if you have any views about what you think BID should be doing please can you email these to either Robert or Bob at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
It has been a fascinating, at times frustrating and educational first six months of IH but we think that we have made quite a lot of progress and been the catalyst for some important changes already. The really heartening thing is that when we started we were definitely treated as an irritant by the powers that be, but we understand that we are now “respected”; that will do as a starter!
There are two other significant developments that you will most likely be aware of, and that we feel will have a particularly beneficial impact on the town’s fortunes:- firstly, the introduction of six daily ‘Azuma’ trains between Harrogate and King’s Cross, and secondly, the arrival of Paula Lorimer as the new director of Harrogate Convention Centre. Paula’s previous position was Deputy CEO at Manchester Central, the conference venue that has arguably been Harrogate’s biggest competitor in recent years. She is confident that some of the clients she persuaded to jump ship from Harrogate to Manchester will soon return! Paula is acutely aware of the importance of Harrogate’s retail and hospitality offer to her own visitors, and is promising to engage with Harrogate business in a way that we have not seen from her predecessors.
As Independent Harrogate we are interested in positively influencing the whole of Harrogate, not just the levy payers, so please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any priorities which you think should be on our radar.
May we take this opportunity to thank you all for your support, which is vital and much appreciated.
Finally, we hope that you have a very Happy Christmas and, so far as possible, a prosperous New Year.