Council pledge: 'No threat' to events in Valley Gardens

Harrogate's cherished Valley Gardens.Harrogate's cherished Valley Gardens.
Harrogate's cherished Valley Gardens.
Harrogate Borough Council has moved to reassure community groups that their events will still be able to happen in Valley Gardens.

Coun Richard Cooper, leader of the council, acted quickly after reading last week's Harrogate Advertiser article headlined "blow for Valley Gardens events."Organisers at Happygate Festival, in particular, had expressed fears that the council's push to encourgae more commercial events to boost the town's visitor economy would impact on local independent groups.But Coun Cooper said there was no "ban" on community events in summer months and the fees for applications were not being made untenable for smaller events.He also confirmed that the council would continue to give support local events in the Valley Gardens.Coun Cooper said: " I read the article in the newspaper last week where a member of the public berated the council for banning local charity and community events in the Valley Gardens during the summer months. "I am pleased to say that this is not the case. The situation remains as it has been for many years and there has not been any proposal to change it or any discussion about doing so."Administration fees - including those for security concerns in public places - will continue to be charged at a rate below that of the costs incurred by the council starting at £100. "We will continue to support local charity and community events through doing this work below cost."The free rental of the Valley Gardens for charity events and voluntary groups will continue as per previous years despite the income to the vouncil from Government via the Rate Support Grant decreasing and the borough council planning to levy a Council Tax increase significantly lower than the inflation rate."Doing the paperwork for a nominal fee and allowing free rental of council land for community and local charity groups is our way of thanking those groups for the invaluable work they do. "That has always been the case and there are not, and never have been, any plans to change that approach."It is now likely that the third annual Happygate Festival will now happen at an earlier date than usual on July 8.And regular charity and community events such as the hugely popular The Big Picnic, organised by Friends of Harrogate Hospital and scheduled this year for July 1, will definitely happen.