After the bosses of Harrogate’s two biggest business groups - Harrogate BID and Harrogate District Chamber of Commerce - told the Harrogate Advertiser the national economic situation meant there was no longer any room for complacency, Andrew Jones MP said he was ready to talk - and listen.
“There are significant challenges facing businesses and, potentially, more on the near horizon,” said Mr Jones.
“The views of traders in Harrogate are important and I am keen to listen to what business leaders have to say.”
There is no sense of crisis from either Harrogate’s MP or the town’s business leaders yet, just a quiet unease at the growing combination of economic pressures facing businesses and their customers.
Both believe Harrogate is still well-placed to ride out any economic storm, acknowledging that shop vacancy rates are below the national average in Harrogate and
unemployment is low.
But, such is the concern over the cost of living and the cost of doing business, leaders are urging the Government to come up with urgent measures to improve the economic climate - including a cut to VAT on fuel, business rates reform and measures to improve consumer confidence.
“The Chancellor made some very bold decision during Covid,” said Harrogate BID manager Matthew Chapman. “Now he needs to do similar to help ease the ‘cost of living crisis’ facing all of us.”
Andrew Jones MP said the town still had many advantages but he would act on issues raised by Harrogate business leaders at the meeting.
“I look forward to talking to the BID and the Chamber about how we can work together to address these,” said Mr Jones.
“I will be taking those views back to ministers as we formulate and refine policy in these areas.”