The launch night of 'Indie Harrogate' last night was the biggest step forward yet for the town's growing independent sector.
Organised and MC-ed at Major Tom's Social bar by Paul Rawlinson, the successful owner of award-winning Norse restaurant and Balterzens cafe in Harrogate, nearly 100 independent cafe, bar, restaurant and business owners turned up.
After presenting his 'pitch' complete with a power point presentation for a stylish new printed Indie Guide to be published next year, Paul chaired a Q&A session which provoked lively debate and a host of new ideas as to how the 'indies' can work together to counter the influx of chains, create new events and put a stronger case for indie interests to the authorities.
Worries about the growing competition in Harrogate from national competitors were raised, as well as the potential to capitalise on the potential growth of the independents in town to help retain the town's unique nature and appeal to visitors.
Paul told the Harrogate Advertiser: “We were really happy with the turnout, it’s very difficult to get that amount of business owners in one place at the same time. It was a room crackling with positive energy and I’d say the consensus of opinion was that now is the right time to take action.
"The detail of the plan will be re-examined in the light of some constructive suggestions so we can be sure to deliver the best effect possible.
"In the meantime we’re asking indies to signal their intent to be part of the project by signing up at bit.ly/indieharrogate.
"We have set an internal deadline of December 15 for a decision to be made on whether the project moves forward in a format close to the one proposed last night."