Council: Why Harrogate needs cycling events

The peloton passes the Pump Room in Harrogate last week whilst on the circuit to be used for the 2019 Worls Championships in September. (Picture by Bruce Rollinson)
The peloton passes the Pump Room in Harrogate last week whilst on the circuit to be used for the 2019 Worls Championships in September. (Picture by Bruce Rollinson)

Harrogate's council leader has defended cycling events in the town after doubts were raised by some local shops as to whether it did any good.

Coun Richard Cooper said that the alternative course of action - to ignore the visitor opportunites afforded by hosting world class cycling events - would spell disaster for Harrogate's economy.


Despite the massive international PR for the town and district generated, some small traders say the disruption and road closures involved costs them business during the likes of the Tour de Yorkshire.
And they worry about the effect of Harrogate hosting all nine days of the UCI Road World Cycling championships this September.

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But councillor Richard Cooper, leader of Harrogate Borough Council, said such events would be of long-term benefit to visitor numbers and the town's traders.


Coun Cooper said: " “The UCI Road World Championships are the biggest cycling event in the world.
“It is predicted that along with the tens of thousands of people who will be attending and staying in Harrogate, more than 300 million of people from all over the globe will be watching on TV.
“Local residents use the town centre shops and that’s great. I encourage them to do more of that. But if we rely on local residents alone to spend in our shops then Harrogate will slowly decline.
"If big stores shut because of a lack of footfall then eventually smaller stores will go, too. "That is why we need long-term sustained leisure and business tourism to supplement and enhance that local footfall. "


Coun Cooper said that TV coverage wasn't just a luxury and that it would translate into economic prosperity for Harrogate.
He said: "The publicity from this worldwide event will provide a long-term boost for tourism as the district will be seen on television sets across the world.
"That is why there is huge competition to host events like this.
"That is why we work hard to bring national and international conferences to the town.
"That is why our retail vacancy rate is lower than the national average and why week-in week-out visitors to our town sing its praises on social media.


He continued that the alternative course of action - to ignore the visitor opportunites afforded by hosting world class cycling events would spell disaster for Harrogate.
Coun Cooper said: “If we did not work so hard to attract people to Harrogate then we would become like the stereotypical tired old seaside town with the odd tourist putting 50 pence pieces into a fruit machine in an amusement arcade surrounding by shuttered shops.
"I am more ambitious for our town than that and celebrate the fact that we are able to bring in these events, publicise our area internationally and bring long-term business and leisure tourism here.”

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