Harrogate council defends spending £10,000 on award ceremonies

The Harrogate Borough Council offices.
The Harrogate Borough Council offices.

Harrogate Borough Council has spent £10,050.79 on award ceremonies since 2015, new information from the Taxpayers’ Alliance shows.

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The pressure group, which lobbies to reduce council tax and expenditure, sent Freedom of Information requests to more than 400 councils across the United Kingdom.

It found that between April 2015 and April 2018, HBC spent £10,050.79 on award ceremonies.

In comparison, northern neighbours Scarborough Borough Council spent £6000 in the same period, while Hambleton District Council spent £17,190.78. North Yorkshire County Council spent £50,791.87.

At the top end of expenditure was Derbyshire County Council, which spent £218,482.81 on award ceremonies in that time.

The Taxpayers’ Alliance report also singled out Harrogate’s Shining Lights Award, an award celebrating businesses in Harrogate that have been trading for under three years, for mention due to its cost.

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The 2015 award included a £3,000 cash prize to the winning business.

Councillor Graham Swift, Harrogate Borough Council’s cabinet member for resources, enterprise and economic development, and the 2015 winner of the Shining Lights Award, Tea+’s James Dawson, both defended the awards.

Coun Swift said the awards were a “vital part” of providing support to new local businesses.

“The Harrogate district has an excellent rate of business start-ups, and the former Harrogate Shining Lights Awards was established to demonstrate the remarkable quality and creativity of some of those,” Coun Swift said.

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“The winner of the ‘best new business’ award was Tea+, who I’m delighted to say are now doing incredibly well with their products being sold all over the country.

“I’m sure these awards helped give them the exposure and financial support they needed. To this day, they still remain the district and pay tax to support the local economy.”

James Dawson, from Tea+, said: “Winning the best new business award in 2015 helped us with our early stage business development costs, as well as giving us wider marketing exposure.

“This in turn led to an approach from a business mentor, further supporting the growth of the company.”

Lachlan Leeming , Local Democracy Reporting Service