UCI cycling 'cost some Harrogate businesses nearly £1 million' claims Independent Harrogate
Pressure group Independent Harrogate whose members include nearly 200 Harrogate businesses, has begun its own survey of the economic impact of the international event after two reports were published.
After speaking to just 22 of its members, they say losses have already amounted to nearly £1m. And they expect the figure to rise as they continue to survey the retailers.
Harrogate Borough Council has pointed to the Ernst & Young report’s conclusion that the UCI championships had resulted in a £17.8 million boost to the economy of the Harrogate district, as well as being viewed by 329 million globally on TV.
But Independent Harrogate said it was disappointed that neither the impact study delivered to Harrogate Borough Council by EY, formerly Ernst & Young, nor the council’s expenditure and income report on the event, had addressed the question of losses suffered by town centre businesses as a result of disruption and road closures during the nine days of the UCIs.
A spokesperson for Independent Harrogate said: “Independent businesses in Harrogate town centre have read the UCI Impact Study with dismay.
“Independent Harrogate does not have the funds of Ernst & Young to do its own report but we have put out a request to Independent Harrogate members and we have been told by 22 town centre businesses so far that they lost £968,000.
“This figure does not include far bigger losses by other businesses, including big names and national firms, which we have been told do not wish to publicise it.
“Whatever the report may say, the UCI was a disaster for a large number of town centre businesses, big and small.”
One business owner, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of a ‘backlash’, told the Harrogate Advertiser the report did not represent what town centre businessed had experienced and there had been only “three people in the shop the whole time during the UCIs"
The owner added that three Dutch cycling fans who had sheltered in the doorway during the event talked openly about how the retail sector always suffered at this major international sporting event.
Another retailer, Jeremy Wood Beaumont of high-end gentlemen’soutfitters Rhodes Woods, said the UCIs had resulted in the shop’s worst-ever trading period.
He said: “The Tour de France was fabulous for Harrogate but we should have bowed out from cycling events then on a high.
"A lot of shops were desperately quiet during the UCIs week. It was dreadful.
"It was our business's worst ever fortnight since we opened 22 years ago on Parliament Street.
"It would have been nice if the report had surveyed all the small businesses in Harrogate to find out the effect of the cycling event on them.
"The report is one-sided."
Harrogate and District Chamber of Commerce, said it recognised the frustration felt by many town centre businesses.
Writing in its latest Business Review, its chief executive Sandra Doherty acknowledged traders’ frustrations but said it remained optimistic over the UCI cycling’s legacy for Harrogate.
She said: “The event certainly divided businesses into those who suffered and those who benefitted.
“As for the legacy of the UCI cycling, we remain optimistic. Visitors at the time were cycling enthusiasts who were not in town to spend money in our shops.
“The many millions round the world who saw Harrogate on TV are much more important.
“We hope the result will be an uplift in visitor numbers over the coming years.”