Harrogate businesses complaints 'not part of' UCI impact report

Neither of Harrogate Borough Council's two reports published last week about the benefits and costs of hosting the UCI Road World Championships in the town address an aspect which led to a series of letters from readers and complaints from some town centre businesses last year.

Monday, 10th February 2020, 10:44 am
Updated Monday, 10th February 2020, 11:32 am
The bridge to the fan zone at West Park Stray in Harrogate during the UCI Road World Championships.

After the nine-day international cycling event had finished at the end of September, angry voices focused on what they said had been a negative impact on footfall for town centre shops and cafes of isolating streets with barriers, closing the A61 and surrounding areas, and other disruptive events associated with hosting the major sporting tournament.

Some Harrogate businesses reported a sharp drop in takings due to regular customers staying away from the town centre.

The council's own analysis of the costs shows it spent a total of £605,000 for an event which is calculated to have brought a £17.8 million-pound boost to the Harrogate district economy.

Total expenditure was £1,305,660, but the council secured income totalling £27,000, and a contribution of £673,000 from the Leeds City Region business rates pool, towards offsetting its costs.

The biggest single amount - £200,000 - was the council’s contribution towards the fan zone and spectator infrastructure for the championships.

The muddy state of the Stray at West Park caused by being the location of the fan zone for, a mostly wet, nine days has been the biggest source of controversy - along with the lack of footfall in the town centre.

The council acknowledges that not every business in Harrogate town centre benefited directly from the championships.

It says, for future events, not necessarily cycling-related, it would be considering ways of driving footfall to retail businesses in general

But a separate UCI impact report by Ernst & Young, the global-wide professional services firm, which was commissioned by the council to look at the economic impact of the cycling event acknowledges there has been no attempt to calculate the negative economic impact some businesses say they experienced.

What UCI impact report by Ernst & Young says about disruption to Harrogate businesses

The positive report which showed hosting the 2019 UCI Road World Championships resulted in a £17.8 million-pound boost to the local economy of the Harrogate district, also contains an annex about its methodolgy,in which Ernst & Young said:

"Economic and social costs: Disruption, such as to the transport network, which may in turn result in reduced economic activity, are not explicitly captured within this study.

"There were a number of complaints raised by local businesses regarding disruption to normal business operations, particularly for businesses within the town centre.

"This may be accounted for in the study’s approach to additionality (see below), through which only visitor spending above normal levels is included within the impact assessment. Analysis of environmental costs and benefits was outside the scope of the study.

"As far as possible, this study seeks to include only those economic impacts which are additional to the area.

"As a result, only the impacts of expenditure from outside of the Harrogate District and explicitly due to the event are included within the overall impact.

"In the course of conducting this analysis, Ernst & Young has spoken with local business representatives, some of whom had mixed views on the event.

"In particular, while many businesses felt that they had been able to capitalise and benefit from the event, others experienced a reduction in trade.

"This report seeks to account for this effect by including the impact of only visitor spending that exceeds a “normal” level of visitor spending that would be expected over a comparable nine-day period."