An attempt to join a government scheme allowing councils to retain 100 per cent of business rates has been welcomed by the Harrogate Chamber of Commerce, so long as funds help to support trade in the district.
The decision to join the national scheme, which is set to begin next year, was put to Cabinet Members as part of a push by the Leeds City Region Business Pool on Wednesday (December 6).
A minimum of 81 per cent of the money collected on the value of commercial properties across Harrogate could be retained if this is successful, more than double the amount currently collected.
Chief Executive of the Harrogate Chamber of Commerce Sandra Doherty has said the pilot could benefit the district. But in doing this she pointed out businesses would expect improvements to be made that would bolster trade within the area.
Mrs Doherty said: “The benefit of this will all depend on what amount that Harrogate gets to keep and how much North Yorkshire County Council takes.
“Harrogate Borough rate payers will want to know how much the county council will take as we do not receive much support from them.
“We saw this with the farce of the traffic lights on King’s Road in the build up to the Christmas Markets, where they did not contact many of us.
She added: “Local people across the district want to be asked what they think is needed and be able to give their views.
“With more money maybe this could be a chance for the locality to have more choice where it is spent.”
Under the current system, 50 per cent retention, Harrogate’s rates are split between the government (50 per cent), Harrogate Borough Council (40 per cent), North Yorkshire County Council (18 per cent) North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (1 per cent).
Due to NYCC also submitting an application for the scheme it could mean the amount that Harrogate receives is reduced if both are successful.
A report on the proposal says this is because the county council makes decisions which potentially could benefit Harrogate.
A larger share will however go to the district should NYCC’s own application fail.
This would reduce the amount taken by the county from 18 to 9 per cent, while Harrogate’s would rise to 90 per cent.