Business leaders say losing Harrogate Christmas Market altogether would be a ‘disaster’
Business leaders have offered their support for Harrogate Christmas Market saying it would be a disaster for the town if it did not take place this year - though opinions vary on exactly where it should take place.
The comment follow the decision taken by Harrogate Borough Council - on the advice of the emergency services - that the twin threats of security risks from terrorism and health risks from Covid, makes the market’s usual site on the Stray at Montpellier Hill a wholly inappropriate location.
Reacting to news that the market would not be granted a licence for its usual site this November, Harrogate District Chamber of Commerce CEO David Simister said the hugely successful annual event was a lifeline for retailers, especially so after the challenges of lockdown.
Mr Simister said “With four months still to go before this year’s Christmas Market takes place, I hope the issues that have so far prevented the council from issuing a permit to the organisers can still be resolved.
“Over the last eight years, it has become a major event in the town’s retail calendar.
“For many businesses it throws them a financial lifeline, and after the year they have just had, to lose it now would be a disaster.”
But when it comes to where this visitor-attracting event should take place, the viewpoint from the Chamber of Commerce is still an open one.
Mr Simister said: “The Great Yorkshire Showground has been mentioned as an alternative location.
“But if it was re-located there, then town centre shops, bars, restaurants and cafes would not benefit from the influx of tens-of-thousands of visitors that Harrogate Christmas Market brings.”
The Manager of Harrogate Business Improvement District (BID) Matthew Chapman praised the organisers of the Christmas Market for achieving such a success since first launching the event in 2012. But he also said he understood how important considerations of safety were.
Mr Chapman said: “This news will be bitterly disappointing to the organisers who have done a fantastic job over the last nine years, firmly putting Harrogate Christmas Market on the festive shopping map.
“The pressing matter now is to ensure a Christmas Market can still proceed, particularly as 170 stallholders and scores of coach companies are already signed up to it.
“However, safety must always come first.”
Mr Chapman said BID would play its part in supporting the Christmas Market wherever the event took place.
He said: “I hope a new location, within the town centre, can be found quickly.
“The last thing we, and town centre retailers, want is to miss out on the opportunity of welcoming tens-of-thousands of visitors to the town for a day’s shopping, and the economic benefit this event ultimately brings.
“We, as an organisation, are open and willing to work in collaboration with all parties to ensure this event happens for the good of the town, and for the many businesses who are relying on a bumper four days of trade to help offset some of their losses brought about by three Covid lockdowns.”