Harrogate shop owner says more action needed to help town centre including free parking

A proud award-winning Harrogate newsagent has joined the chorus of concern about reviving the town centre saying more free parking is needed.

Friday, 19th June 2020, 2:41 pm
The award-winning Brian Moses pictured outside The Bookstall newsagents at Harrogate Railway Station in better days before the coronavirus lockdown. (Picture : Adrian Murray)

Although non-essential shops reopened earlier this week with strict safety measures bringing back shoppers for the first time in three months, The Bookstall newsagents said they had personally seen no boost yet in footfall despite the improved picture in some places.

Based on the concourse inside Harrogate Railway Station on Station Parade, The Bookstall won the award for the UK’s top newsagent in 2016 under its long-term owner Brian Moses who received the award at a glittering ceremony in London.

Mr Moses said: “There's not been much difference so far. It’s been very quiet.

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"I know the town has been a bit busier but we are surviving on the non-train users; locals who know we are here and have now started coming back, which is good."

The Bookstall stalwart said the problem was partly that rail passengers numbers are still so low during the coronavirus pandemic.

But, he added, his concerns were for the town centre as a whole and that the easing of lockdown had to progress further for the good of the retail sector.

Mr Moses said: “It’s hard for us when the Government is still advising people not to use trains unless essential and when passengers have to wear face masks.

“To implement parking charges was the wrong move at the moment. We need free parking to get the town going again, even if it is limited to one hour.

"We need cafes and bars to open, too. There has been a change of culture during coronavirus.

"Shoppers need to have a coffee or a bite to eat.

"There is also a huge lack of public toilets open.

"Hopefully it will start to pick up, though. I haven't noticed a big improvement yet. It's got to improve from this."

Mr Moses' comments were partly echoed by Harrogate's longest-existing group representing the town's businesses who also says more changes are needed in some areas.

Harrogate Chamber of Trade and Commerce's chief executive Sandra Doherty said: “Wandering through town this morning on Tuesday it was good to see shoppers about on the streets of Harrogate, although not in great numbers.

“Hopefully by the weekend, and with additional shops opening on a daily basis, more people will choose to come back to Harrogate to shop, and enjoy the town.

"I hope those not yet open are just taking their time, rather than closed for ever.

“Although one couple I spoke to were quite disappointed to find that Bettys was still closed, I was able to point them in the direction of cafes that I did know were open for takeaway food and drinks.

“All in all, it was positive for Harrogate as we move forward into the summer when more of the hospitality outlets open and bring some welcome buzz to the town.”

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