Ex-Tory council leader named Harrogate Homeless Project chief executive
Apr 3, 2024
Richard Cooper (left) and Francis McAllister.

Former Harrogate Borough Council leader Richard Cooper has been named as the new chief executive of Harrogate Homeless Project.

Richard Cooper, who led the council from 2014 until last year, will relinquish his role as office manager for Harrogate and Knaresborough Conservative MP Andrew Jones to take up the role on July 1.

He will succeed Francis McAllister, who is retiring after two years in charge of the charity. Its hostel on Bower Street is close to Mr Jones’ East Parade constituency office and Harrogate Conservative Club

In a press release announcing the move, the charity said Mr Cooper began voluntary work at the hostel in 1996 after becoming “drawn by its vision of ending rough sleeping in the Harrogate district”.

It added Mr Cooper continued to support Harrogate Homeless Project during his time as a councillor, and “regularly gives talks on homelessness, rough sleeping and street begging to community groups”.

Mr Cooper said:

“After so many years being closely connected to the homeless project as a volunteer and supporter it feels like a bit of a dream to become the organisation’s chief executive.

“Preventing homelessness and supporting people sleeping rough is a difficult task and I know we have a small and dedicated team of staff, volunteers and donors who have an amazing impact.

“And I have big shoes to fill. Francis McAllister has led Harrogate Homeless Project through a significant period of change and growth. Our Springboard day centre is a hive of activity providing a wide range of support from an array of partners. The team is better-placed than ever before to support clients. Francis has made a real difference to homelessness in our area.”

Mr Cooper’s last working day with Mr Jones, which will be on June 28, will mark the end of one of the most influential careers in local politics this century.

David Thomas, chairman at the project, added:

“I know Richard understands the challenges facing Harrogate Homeless Project. The economic climate remains difficult, there is a shortage of affordable property for rent and support services are stretched.  Our charity has a big job to do to meet these challenges and with his background in the community and decades-long support for Harrogate Homeless Project I know he will be an energetic leader for the Harrogate Homeless Project team.

“We will miss Francis but respect his decision to retire after a lifetime working for local and national charities. He will forever be a friend to HHP and to the many people whom he helped during his tenure.”

Asked how much Mr Cooper will be paid by the charity, Mr McAllister replied:

“I cannot discuss individual salaries but it is at a similar level to our existing CEO and commensurate with CEO roles at charities of a similar size and complexity.”

According to its latest accounts filed with the Charity Commission for the year ending August 31, 2022, no employees received annual remuneration of £60,000 or more.

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