The comment follows a decision by Harrogate Borough Council – on the advice of emergency services – that the dual threat of security risks from terrorism and health risks from Covid, makes the market’s usual site on the Stray in Montpellier Hill a totally inappropriate place.
Reacting to the news that the market would not be licensed for its regular site in November, Harrogate District Chamber of Commerce CEO David Simister said the hugely successful annual event was a lifeline for retailers, especially after the challenges of foreclosure.
Mr Simister said: “With four months left to go to this year’s Christmas market, I hope that the issues that have so far prevented the council from issuing permits to organizers can still be resolved.
“Over the past eight years it has become a major event in the city’s business calendar.
“For a lot of businesses, this throws them a financial lifeline, and after the year they’ve just had, losing it now would be a disaster.”
But when it comes to where this attractive event should take place, the Chamber of Commerce’s point of view is always open.
Mr Simister said: “The Great Yorkshire Showground was mentioned as an alternative location.
“But if it were relocated there, the shops, bars, restaurants and cafes of the city center would not benefit from the influx of tens of thousands of visitors that the Harrogate Christmas market brings.”
Harrogate Business Improvement District (BID) Director Matthew Chapman praised the Christmas market organizers for achieving such success since the event launched in 2012. But he also said he understood how much the considerations security were important.
Mr Chapman said: “This will be bitterly disappointing news for the organizers who have done a fantastic job over the past nine years, putting the Harrogate Christmas market firmly on the festive shopping map.
“The urgency now is to ensure that a Christmas market can still take place, especially as 170 traders and dozens of coach companies are already registered.
“However, safety must always come first.”
Mr Chapman said BID will play its part in supporting the Christmas market wherever the event takes place.
He said: “I hope that a new location, in the city center, can be found quickly.
“The last thing we, and downtown merchants, want is to miss the opportunity to welcome tens of thousands of visitors to town for a day of shopping, and the economic benefit that ultimately brings. event.
“As an organization, we are open and willing to work collaboratively with all parties to ensure this event runs for the good of the city and for the many businesses who rely on four exceptional days of exchange to help offset part of their losses caused by three Covid blockages. “