Harrogate will NOT enter any In Bloom competitions this year due to the state of the Stray

For the first time in the town’s history, the decision has been taken not to enter Harrogate into any ‘In Bloom’ competitions this year over fears that it would be ‘foolish’ to showcase the Stray in its present condition to judges.

Wednesday, 22nd January 2020, 3:26 pm

The president of Harrogate in Bloom, Pam Grant, said the group’s decision was taken with a heavy heart, but told the Harrogate Advertiser that it was a necessary move, stating that the Stray is a jewel in Harrogate’s crown, and one that needs to be at its finest to give the best overall impression of the town to judges.

Mrs Grant said: “I feel very sad to see the Stray in its current state, and I fully understand that it is unlikely to look any better until May or June time, when hopefully remedial work will have begun.

For the first time in the towns history, the decision has been taken not to enter Harrogate into any In Bloom competitions this year over fears that it would be foolish to showcase the Stray in its present condition to judges.

“Over the years we have always tried to showcase Harrogate at its best, and apart from winning gold medals from In Bloom, we have won the RHS tourism award, plus RHS best park for the Valley Gardens. But we couldn’t possibly showcase Harrogate with the Stray in such a state. Visitors to Harrogate have high expectations, and we want to maintain those high standards.

“Nearly four months have passed since the UCI Road World Championships took place, and we are left with a quagmire.

“We are confident that once the work has been done, then next year, we will have a Stray of which we can be proud and showcase to our In Bloom judges. Meanwhile, we feel that this year it would be foolish to enter Harrogate in any competition, and our time will be well spent in making Harrogate better.”

While the town isn’t entered in any competitions, Harrogate in Bloom now intends to liaise with the businesses who are part of Harrogate’s Business Improvement District to try and improve the town centre.

Mrs Grant said: “We will also continue to work with the community groups and schools, and hopefully in 2021 Harrogate will be in a position to retain its floral splendour as an attractive tourist destination and a wonderful town to live.”

Harrogate Borough Council has this week reiterated its commitment to restoring the Stray. A spokesperson said: “We take our responsibilities for all areas of the Stray very seriously, and we want the West Park area to be brought back into use as soon as possible.

“Sadly, the ground is still extremely wet, but once this has dried out we will start a programme of work in the spring, including addressing some of the long term drainage issues in the area.”