The Harrogate Advertiser’s Town Centre Survey asked people “what do you think is the worst thing about Harrogate town centre?”.
The top five answers included things like: empty shops, congested roads, drug addicts/drunkenness/anti-social behaviour/beggars, scruffy and dirty pavements and streets and, finally, lifeless, soulless pedestrianised areas, especially near McDonalds.
A widely-held sentiment across the replies was how depressing empty shop units were.
One said: “The amount of empty retail units in the centre isn’t looking good. Needs addressing.”
Another said: “It’s boring and lifeless. Lots of empty shops.”
One response said the town had ceased to be an interesting destination for shoppers because of “greed.”
“We’ve become just like every other town centre because of the greed of commercial landlords going for the big fish.
“There is nothing interesting in this town any longer, just more chain shops that would be better placed in somewhere like Leeds city centre.”
Another put it in a briefer way: “It is beginning to look like a ghost town with all the shops closing.”
Despite residents’ pride in how beautiful Harrogate looks and its reputation for being relatively crime-free, a large number of survey respondents thought problems were mounting in this regard.
One reply, which wasn’t uncommon, spelt it out in blunt terms. “Unclean, messy, empty.”
Another lamented the town’s less salubrious aspects. One said the worst thing was: “Beggars, litter, uneven pavements, loud busking.” Another mentioned: “How dirty it is and all the drunks.
“The pavements are a mess and no money or care is put into making Commercial Street or lower Station Parade look appealing or the areas around Mayfield Grove and up to Asda’s.
“The council needs to improve the state of the pavements everywhere, not just heading from West Park to Parliament Street.”