Scrutiny councillors launch their own impact study into Harrogate UCI cycling event

A council working group has launched a "proper" scoping study into how Harrogate's economy was impacted by the 2019 UCI Road World Championships.

Wednesday, 4th March 2020, 4:35 pm
Updated Wednesday, 4th March 2020, 4:36 pm

Members of Harrogate Borough Council's overview and scrutiny committee will come together to address key questions they say have been left unanswered after the controversial cycling event was held in September.

An Ernst & Young economic and visitor impact study - which was commissioned by the council - said the event brought a £17.8million boost to the district's economy. But the study was also criticised for not taking into account some businesses' losses during the nine-day event.

Lib Dem leader councillor Pat Marsh said the formation of the working group is "not about criticising, but about learning" from the event.

Harrogate councillors have launched their own study into UCI cycling event

She said: "This is such an important issue for the town and district. We need to get a balanced report - not just relying on Ernst & Young - with proper scoping."

The working group will be made up of a mix of Conservative and Lib Dem councillors - and one area they will be focusing on is the Stray which was damaged during the event's wet weather.

Up until the end of January, more than £50,000 had been spent on restoration works at the town's iconic parkland before the damage was compounded by February's record-breaking rainfall.

The Ernst & Young report alone cost the council £18,000 - and Conservative councillor Bernard Bateman said it failed in "asking the other side of the point."

Retail campaign group Independent Harrogate has also begun a survey of its own looking into the event's economic impact. After speaking to 22 of its members, the group previously said losses amounted to nearly £1million.

Harrogate Borough Council's deputy leader and cabinet member for resources, enterprise and economic development, councillor Graham Swift, had hit back at the criticism, saying: "Rather than focusing efforts on criticising the work of EY, I would encourage readers to participate in the future of our wonderful district.

"We have a vibrant town centre with an outstanding district landscape and by advertising our heritage and our attractions we will remain so."

The council spent a total of £1,305,660 on the event - but this cost was offset using £673,000 from the Leeds City Region business rates pool and £27,000 income.

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter