Dear Reader: Amazing Bed Race + 'Public interest' & Crescent Gardens future

Nidd Valley Road Runners in Saturdays Knaresborough Bed Race.
Nidd Valley Road Runners in Saturdays Knaresborough Bed Race.

A personal column by the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers

Half an hour after the end of Saturday’s Knaresborough Bed Race I was already sitting in the Mitre Inn talking to members of the Nidd Valley Road Runners team that just come fourth.

It has to be said, the event is brilliantly organised by Knaresborough Lions and its army of volunteers.

Harrogate hero - this where I landed on D-Day

Sitting with a pint of Bed Racer by local brewery Roosters listening to this super-fit bunch relive their exploits, I could see the man up in the signals box allowing the Leeds-York train carry on a very different type of journey to the gruelling 2.4 mile Bed Race.

The atmosphere of the whole town changes on Bed Race day.
The hairdressers have a DJ spinning music at the decks in its front window.
Bars have elaborate queuing systems with VIP red ropes and gold stanchions.

Crowds of all ages, backgrounds and professions line the streets. A few are even wearing Viking helmets.

As always, I watched the race near the top of the steep hill at Castle Ings.

I used to think I’d liked it here because the crowds are thinner and the teams slower.
The more ambitious competitors put in hours and hours of practice in the weeks leading up to the race.

But by the time these hardy souls reach the point where I’m standing, only the leaders look anything but utterly exhausted.

As I carry on chatting, I learn that at least two of the 90 teams taking part this year capsized while crossing the River Nidd just before the finishing line.
The Dunkirk spirit lives on in Knaresborough Bed Race.

If I had a pound for every column inch in this newspaper that’s mentioned Crescent Gardens over the last five years I’d now be ensconced in my own super yacht crewed by the winning team of the America’s Cup enjoying lunch served by Michel Roux Jr.

That the subject has generated such controversy should come as no a surprise.
Crescent Gardens isn’t just formidable in simple physical terms.

Harrogate Borough Council’s former headquarters is also steeped in history in a prime part of town which screams ‘heritage.’

What happens next for Crescent Gardens is the million dollar question or £75 million question or whatever figure the next bidder comes up with.

Civic groups are keen to ensure that the public interest is put first.
The question is what is the ‘public interest’?

Talking last week to Coun Graham Swift, Harrogate Borough Council’s deputy leader, it was clear that, in the council’s eyes, the emphasis in ‘public interest’ should lie in public costs.

But it isn’t just nostalgia for Victorian times driving the demands of concerned citizens.

Surely a way can be found to create a future which lives up to Crescent Gardens past without spending the sort of money that would get me a good few super yachts?

Top Harrogate shops demand more free parking to save high street