Harrogate’s charter mayor reflects on his first six months in the role promoting the historic and ceremonial traditions of the area

Harrogate’s charter mayor Coun Michael Harrison has reflected on his first six months in the role which has seen him attend some of the town’s most important civic events.
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Coun Harrison is a Conservative who represents Killinghall, Hampsthwaite and Saltergate on North Yorkshire Council.

The non-political, unelected role involves promoting the historic and ceremonial traditions of the Harrogate area during events and occasions such as next month’s Remembrance Sunday.

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It differs from the former Harrogate Borough Council mayoralty, which covered the whole of the former borough with the mayor undertaking a wider range of engagements.

Harrogate’s charter mayor Coun Michael HarrisonHarrogate’s charter mayor Coun Michael Harrison
Harrogate’s charter mayor Coun Michael Harrison

The charter mayor is not entitled to expenses such as a chauffeur driven car that the former HBC mayor could benefit from, although the charter mayor is still entitled to wear chains and civic regalia as worn by previous mayors.

Harrogate’s charter trustees met at the Civic Centre when Coun Harrison updated councillors about his engagements so far.

He is supported by deputy charter mayor, Coun Chris Aldred, a Liberal Democrat who represents High Harrogate and Kingsley.

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Coun Harrison said: “The flavour of [the engagements] is very much anything of a pure civic nature that you’d expect the mayor to attend.

"Myself and Chris [Aldred] have gone out of our way to make sure that our attendance is taken place. I’m talking about things like laying wreaths, significant anniversaries such as the anniversary for the dedication of the War Memorial, various things at Stonefall Cemetary, church services and the odd thing around the Coronation. All of those are absolutely things the mayor should attend.

"In addition to that, there was a number of engagements where I felt the mayor’s attendance would support significant events in the town such as things being run by Harrogate International Festivals and the odd convention. I’d like to think that’s struck a balance for the town and the charter trustees.”

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At the meeting, the ten charter trustees, which are councillors who represent areas of Harrogate, approved a finance report that noted how much the charter trustees have cost the public so far.

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For the financial year 2023/24, there was a budget of £12,500 and a report says £5,000 has been spent on officer support from North Yorkshire Council.

Councillors also approved new loan agreements for some of Harrogate’s rare civic items which include objects that date back to the town’s Victorian heyday.

For example, items held by the the Royal Hall Restoration Trust include the foundation stone trowel for Harrogate Library, a pump room cigarette box and a framed Tour de France yellow jersey signed by Marcel Kittel – winner of the first stage in Harrogate 2014.