'We will be back in 2022' say Harrogate Christmas Market organisers
One of the founders of the original Harrogate Christmas Market is backing plans to bring back the event which attracts 80,000 people in 2022.
John Fox's remarks come as Harrogate Borough Council prepares to announce the results of talks with Manchester-based organisers about holding a major festive event this December in the town centre proper.
The former councillor and ex-chairman of Harrogate BID, among many other civic roles, said the existing locally-run Harrogate Christmas Market brought in an estimated £2.4 million per year to the Harrogate economy and it was right that a renewed attempt should be made to secure its future despite the loss of a licence for its usual Montpellier Hill location this year.
Mr Fox added said "We are planning to organise a Harrogate Christmas Market in 2022 because we strongly believe we should support local businesses in the town centre at a critical time of year for them."
Harrogate Borough Council has said it believes it was faced with no choice but to refuse a licence for the Christmas Market's usual location at Montpellier Hill because of the advice it received from emergency services in North Yorkshire about perceived weaknesses of the site in terms of counter-terrorism security and Covid safety.
But one of the main organisers, Brian L Dunsby OBE is sticking to his version of events.
He said: "After several months of consideration since we submitted our Event Plan on May 5, 2021, tHarrogate Borough Council Executive Officers have refused to issue a licence for Harrogate Christmas Market 2021.
"We tried very hard to resolve their concerns over issues raised by the emergency services and parks department, without success.
"The Council say that they want us off Montpellier Hill but they would not suggest any suitable alternative.
"So we have reviewed 12 other possible locations but none are suitable for expected 200 stalls, 150+ coaches and tens of thousands of visitors.
"We now have no choice but to say with regret that the original Harrogate Christmas Market for 2021 is definitely cancelled for this year.
A meeting of the Harrogate Christmas Market Group on September 13 reviewed the situation and the options going forward.
The meeting decided unanimously to plan ahead for a Harrogate Christmas Market 2022 at the traditional location on Montpellier Hill with hopefully more space for stalls and visitors.
Organisers intend to resolve all the remaining Council concerns before reapplying for a licence early in 2022.
Brian Dunsby OBE said: "The Harrogate Christmas Market is unique in the country. It is family oriented, with locally sourced products and traders.
"We are now appealing for more business supporters and volunteers to enlarge our working team."