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2019 Road Worlds ‘closed Harrogate town centre for a month’ says council report

Conclusions urge closer involvement of local residents and businesses ahead of hosting large events in the future

The 2019 UCI Road World Championships caused the centre of Harrogate, the North Yorkshire town which hosted the finish of the races, to be closed for a month according to a draft report of the event that will be considered by the local council’s overview and scrutiny commission next week.

The draft report has been published on Harrogate Borough Council’s website ahead of the meeting and makes a number of recommendations including ensuring greater involvement of local businesses and residents prior to the North Yorkshire  hosting large events in the future.

Harrogate itself, which is a major destination for tourism, trade shows and conferences, was the central hub for the championships, and besides providing the finish location to the racing, which took place over nine days, it also hosted media and broadcast centres, the event HQ and the fanzone, which was located close to the finish on The Stray.

The draft report said that “residents, businesses and other organisations in Harrogate were therefore more affected by the event than those in other areas of the district and wider Yorkshire area.”

In a foreword to the draft report, Councillor Nick Brown, chair of Harrogate Borough Council’s UCI Task and Finish Group, said: “An important conclusion reached was that there was a common perception that the event effectively closed down the centre of Harrogate not just for the nine days of the UCI but for nearly a month including set up and dismantling and this was considered unacceptable to many residents and businesses in the town.

“Looking to the future, there is a place for exciting, perhaps shorter, events that portray Harrogate and North Yorkshire in a good light, nationally and throughout the world,” he continued.

“The views of the Task and Finish Group, which have been cross-party and unanimous in its recommendations, have concluded that in future greater priority should be given to serving the needs of those who live, work and create wealth and employment in this great town and district,” the councillor added.

> World Championships in Harrogate “catalyst for ill feeling” says organiser hoping to revive Tour de Yorkshire

A separate study carried out by Ernst & Young found that the event boosted the local economy to the tune of £17.8 million and attracted a worldwide TV audience of 329 million people, but noted that some local businesses had seen a reduction in trade while the championships were going on.

The UCI Task and Finish Group’s own draft report said that it too had “heard evidence that some local businesses experienced significant disruption, over a number of weeks that affected trade, deliveries and staff, but this was not the focus of the EY study.

“It would be beneficial when commissioning similar evaluation studies to try to ensure the output included insights that were beneficial to as many local organisations as possible, with particular consideration given to the scope for the work,” it added.

The draft report was in part based on responses to a survey conducted in May and June 2021, with 610 residents and 79 organisations participating, as well as a day-long evidence session.

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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