Although the heart of the dispute is centered on anti-terrorism and Covid safety issues over the existing Montpellier Hill site raised by the council and the emergency services, one of the other major points of debate in the wrangle over this year’s Harrogate Christmas Market is whether its success at Montpellier Hill feeds into the town’s wider economy.
Tomorrow's scheduled meeting between existing organisers and council officers follows council leader Coun Richard Cooper's toughening stance on the issue which has seen him making it clear that council is ready to start talks with different organisers to relocate Harrogate Christmas Market if there is no breakthrough on the location.
The town’s business leaders, including Harrogate BID, say losing Harrogate Christmas Market altogether would be a “disaster” for the town’s economic recovery battle but appear open to the idea of it taking place on a new site.
But traders the Harrogate Advertiser spoke to who have personal experience of the market, say it should stay where it is.
Howard Heaton of family business Westmorland Sheepskins Ltd, which is located at 16 Montpellier Parade facing the market site, said: “We have taken a stall on the market since the beginning and it has been very successful for us.
“We also have a shop on Montpellier Parade, it’s best week is the Christmas Market week.
“Like all bricks and mortar shops things are not easy because during the pandemic we were shut down and since reopening things have been sticky.
“Should we decide that it is not worth it will leave yet another empty shop on the High Street.
“If the wrong decision by Harrogate Boroguh Council is made we may well take this option.
“The other good effect of the market is that it attracts people who come see and come back at other times of the year.
“Quite a lot of the shops are on the edge and it would only take one push.”
Deb Hagland of Wicked Fudge, which is based in Lincolnshire, says Harrogate Christmas Market is highly regarded.
She said: “I have been a stallholder at the Harrogate Christmas Market selling my handmade decorations for a number of years and love it.
“Harrogate Christmas Market is unique in the fact that the organisers give priority booking to artisan makers and crafters, Yorkshire businesses and the surrounding counties.
“Over the years I have heard so many visitors comment on the quality of the stalls at the Christmas market, how helpful the stewards are, how lovely the market is.
“If it was organised by a commercial market management company then the organisers would be more interested in making a profit and would accept bookings from anyone willing to pay their stall rent with no regard for the quality of what is sold.”
Harrogate Borough Council have confirmed the meeting will take place tomorrow morning, Tuesday between the existing organisers of Harrogate Christmas Market and Harrogate Borough Council's Alison Wilson, Head of Parks and Environmental Services.