Chairman steps down at Harrogate BID

After three years helping to establish and launch the Harrogate BID, and as the organisation’s first director and chair in its initial year, John Fox has stepped down as the BID board changes shape for 2020.

Monday, 9th December 2019, 1:09 pm
Updated Monday, 9th December 2019, 1:10 pm
After three years helping to establish and launch the Harrogate BID, and as the organisations first director and chair in its initial year, John Fox has stepped down.

John Fox said: “When the BID began, I was asked by the board to be chair. All directors are volunteers who run businesses, and I was the only one as a retiree who could commit the time and energy the role demanded.

"As someone with a number of voluntary roles, I was willing to step up as I’m deeply invested in working for the good of our town. However, I always made it clear, ultimately I would look for a business leader to be chair of the BID.”

2019’s annual review outlined major work to date including launching the Harrogate Gift Card, which aims to lock spend into the local economy and has seen over 90 businesses sign up.

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Engagement activities include hosting street theatre to encourage footfall into shopping quarters, such as the giant dinosaur street spectacle, Saurus, which pulled big crowds in the summer.

More recently, actors in comic book cosplay took to the town centre to hand out the BID Harrogate Map to visitors as the BID supported the new Thought Bubble Comic Con, which attracted 11,000 people to Harrogate.

Coun Richard Cooper said: “I have known John for 20 years. We have been political opponents and indeed we have both beaten each other once in council elections! But whatever differences political and otherwise you have with John, everyone knows that he puts his shoulder behind the wheel and gets the best for Harrogate.

"And in doing so he has motivated teams of people to achieve much.

"Whether it is the Volunteering Oscars or Harrogate Christmas lights, John is a central figure in our town. When it came to getting the Business Improvement District off the ground John was the obvious choice to do it. And he set about it with his typical gusto giving town centre businesses the opportunity to shape the future of the town.”

Cllr Cooper added: “I hope John knows how much his work is valued across the community and by me personally. Although he is stepping back from this role, I hope he will be on hand as an experienced voice of wise counsel.”

The BID’s work to date also includes an environmental survey on town centre improvements, and a survey of over 100 businesses for views on parking charges.

John also spearheaded creative marketing campaigns such as the popular ‘Dine Out for a Tenner’ campaign for the food and drink sector. Under John’s leadership, the BID is also launching a free cost-savings advice service to levy payers in January to help businesses reduce bills.

David Ritson, General Manager at the Old Swan Hotel, said: “I first met John when he was Mayor of Harrogate and since then through his work for the Christmas Lights and Volunteer Oscars and it is clear to see through his excellent work that his passion for Harrogate is as strong now as it was in 2008. We have both been involved with the Harrogate Business Improvement District (BID) since the idea was formed over three years ago. John has shown immense dedication, a huge commitment of personal time and effort to bring the BID to life and establish the concept in town.

“John has invested hours in the BID and given it a personality, visiting the BID members, introducing them to one another, working events, hosting engagement events and most importantly listening to the levy payers to ensure that our work has been in tune with the members plans and needs. We are fortunate to have had John Fox lead the BID team and his legacy is the framework for others to take forward, mould to the ever changing needs of the BID area and build on to achieve continued success in Harrogate.”

John Fox said: “It’s been a lot of hard work and I’ve been fortunate enough to work with an enthusiastic and committed board in 2019. We are proud of the many campaigns and projects achieved over the year and the on-going legacy they will provide. I wish the new board continued success.”

The 2020 BID Board

Three National Retailers: Andrea Thornborrow, Primark; Mark Robson, Marks and Spencer; and Martin Gerrard, Barclays Bank.

Three Independent Retailers: Rob Spencer, Town House Design; Robert Kennedy, G23; and Robert Ogden, Ogden of Harrogate.

Two Office and Commercial: Chris Bentley, Hornbeam Park and Richard Wheeldon, Berwins Solicitors.

Two Food and Drink: Mark Young, The Ivy and Sarah Ferguson, Sasso.

One Accommodation: Sandra Doherty, Alexa House.

Three Public Sector representatives: David Bowe, North Yorkshire County Council; Councillor Richard Cooper, Harrogate Borough Council; and Sgt Alex Sellars, North Yorkshire Police.

There is one vacancy for a voluntary contributor.

A new chair from the business sector is yet to be appointed from within the new board.