Anger over council's handling of Christmas Market and Bank Holiday funfair in Harrogate

Harrogate’s Liberal Democrats have expressed their anger over the borough council’s handling of this year’s Christmas Market and August Bank Holiday funfair.

Party leader councillor Pat Marsh questioned why only council officers were involved in a decision to refuse a licence for the Christmas Market as she also said the council should have been more supportive of the funfair which was cancelled after a row over fees.

Speaking last week, she said: “The Lib Dems on Harrogate council are very angry at the way that annual events are being cancelled. First it was the local Christmas market. That meant local artisans won’t be able to sell their products to residents.

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“Now we have the annual funfair being cancelled, something thousands of young people have enjoyed over many, many years.

The funfair was due to be held on The Stray this weekend

“Why has this been allowed to happen? Why couldn’t the council be more supportive with the price? We could end up with a reputation of not welcoming and not being supportive of special events.”

Coun Marsh’s comments come after the council last month refused a licence for the Christmas Market on Montpellier Hill because officers said it had “outgrown what can be safely delivered” at that location.

Organisers who created the event first held in 2012 said they were “extremely saddened” by the decision – and the council is now in talks with a Manchester-based firm over bringing a new event to the town this December.

Meanwhile, the annual funfair due to be held over last weekend was cancelled after organisers claimed the council had raised fees for using the Stray to an unfair degree – something the council has disputed.

Coun Marsh added: “The town has seen us go from hosting International events such as the UCI Road World Championships to losing some of our high profile events for our residents.

“This is not all councillors making these decisions.

“We need to ensure that all councillors are kept informed and have a chance to have an input, we are all elected by the residents to act on their behalf.”

The council previously said the authority was pleased to help bring forward plans for a new Christmas Market – and it has now issued a new statement in response to the cancellation of the funfair.

A council spokesperson said: “The council have not had any contact from the organisers concerning the funfair since April this year meaning it was too late for them to submit an event plan for the August bank holiday weekend.

“We have a daily price for commercial events on the Stray and would then look to negotiate with the organisers if we could agree a multi-year contract which is where we got to with the fairground in April and then they did not come back to us again.

“If they contact us directly we are more than happy to discuss arrangements for future years”.