One Of Many Angry Letters Received ref: Ernst & Young’s Harrogate UCI Report – res ipsa loquitur

As someone who attended the Chamber’s post UCI meeting at Hotel de Vin and witnessed the distress, and in some cases tears, of dozens of business people who had lost up to three weeks trade  as a result of the UCI I am astonished that anyone can accept the results of the HBC commissioned survey just published. Absolutely everyone was, and indeed is, up in arms about the appalling loss of business. How can this absurd result be accepted? The report is a fiasco.
 
How can such extensive business losses be overlooked? With one or two rare exceptions virtually everyone lost out. From large supermarkets and well known High Street giants, to department stores and independents shops, dozens of small shops, boutiques, etc losses were in hundreds of £thousands. Restaurants, some exceedingly well known and popular, not only did not gain UCI trade, but like the shops, found their regulars did not come either. Small tea rooms and coffee shops fared no better. Even hostelries on West Park itself found that UCI people came in, with their own sandwiches, wanting only a glass of water.
 
Closing the main road through the town for 15 ½ days was madness. Alongside a myriad of other road closures, all subject to alteration with no notice, was it any wonder that most local people gave up and simply stayed at home? Or went on holiday in their hundreds, as they did, simply to get away from what they knew would be ‘Hell in Harrogate’? Ask any local travel agent. The town was effectively closed down and for far, far longer than ‘only 9 days’ being quoted by the idiot brigade. It was massively disruptive to everyone’s lives.
 
Businesses on and just off Ripon Road were also completely inaccessible for most of the time, thus customers could not get to them. This also applied to nearby King’s Road and Cold Bath Road businesses suffered as they too were marooned. They even put out frantic social media messages saying, ‘Please come, when you can get here, and if you then can’t get back again, stay, eat and have coffee until you can’. How desperate is that?
 
Ditto Harlow Carr was approachable only on foot, if that. Heaven knows what businesses there lost. Horticap lost out hugely. So much so that local people used social media to appeal to people to please go back and support them.
 
Every conceivable business lost out. From dog walkers to dentists; oven cleaners to beauticians; carers, nurses, cleaners, painters & decorators, plumbers, electricians, hairdresser, garden centres, professional offices…. the list goes on.
 
It was not just town centre businesses either. The poor man who spoke at the Hotel de Vin meeting about being an ‘independent van driver’ had lost, from memory, 23 days trade. I heard later that he had gone under. He said that evening, ‘I have a wife and children and a mortgage and have had no business for over three weeks because of this’.
 
Children could not get to and from school easily and were stuck on school buses for hours due to road closures. Hospital and GP appointments were messed up. WHAT was the cost to the NHS of having to create a whole website just to explain to people what to do???? Patients attend HDH from all over the district.  Many could not get to appointments. WHAT did that cost in resources, time, stress etc.
 
Businesses, large and small, throughout the town and district are still furious that they had lost so significantly. Surely this report, despite its many ‘riders’ must be challenged by the Chamber, BID, Independent Harrogate…somebody… if not all?  It is utterly iniquitous that HBC can gloss over this astonishing loss of business as if it were merely a blip.
 
Never mind the ‘Methodology’ used for this farcical report it is more like Mythology!!
 
All of this cannot be ignored, any more than can the dreadful devastation caused to West Park Stray and the enormous ongoing cost of repairing it. Also, what must the huge carbon footprint for the whole event have been?.
 
Months of road works to prepare the local and county wide roads……even a bridge replaced in record time in the Dales to take the UCI…  Flying in dozens of teams,  both people, machines and supplies from all over the world; enormous fuel guzzling Winnebagos all over the town centre and elsewhere; teams in huge wagons putting up barriers all over Harrogate and Yorkshire…and then removing them; teams of officials being delivered to and from said barricades; large numbers of police cars and vans, not to mention motor cycle outriders, preceding and following the cycling teams; support vehicles following the teams with bikes atop them, increasing the ‘drag’ and thereby the fuel consumption of these vehicles; motorbikes with cameramen atop; all the bikes and all the spares and all the equipment to repair and maintain said bikes; several helicopters overhead ALL the time; putting up and taking down the enormous fan park’ all the machines used for that; all the diesel generators used in the fan park; the Ferris wheel; the enormous amount of machinery used to try and take out all the deep ruts gouged in the Stray afterwards; all the machinery and supplies to repair the foot paths and now the Stray
 
Adding insult to injury, the event, damage and report, plus repairing the Stray, we, the local taxpayers, are having to pay for. Is it any wonder people are incensed?

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Editor - Independent Harrogate

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