Government should compensate for a loss of business at Harrogate Convention Centre due to the Nightingale Hospital extension, say opposition councillors.
Pat Marsh, Liberal Democrat leader of the opposition on Harrogate Borough Council, said the hospital was needed but added that the government should offer support for the impact of having the convention centre out of action for longer.
It comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced £3 billion worth of funding to maintain the Nightingale Hospitals across the country until the end of March.
NHS England will be given the money in preparation for a potential second wave of covid-19 this winter.
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But Cllr Marsh said the conference centre “underpins” Harrogate’s economy and the government should be made aware of its economic impact.
“We do need the hospital as a fallback. But I think we need the government to give us some compensation to filter down to those businesses that are going to be left high and dry.
“The government needs to know what impact it is having. It needs to step up to the plate.”
Earlier this year, local businesses raised fears about the impact of having the convention centre unable to host events for at least a year.
Harrogate Borough Council said it is still discussing with NHS Yorkshire and Humber over what role the Nightingale at the convention centre will play.
The prime minister has confirmed that money has been set aside to keep the Nightingale hospitals available until 2021. We continue our discussions with NHS Yorkshire and Humber about what role @HgtConventions will play, but nothing has yet been decided. pic.twitter.com/e6Z4njx8Vl
— Harrogate Borough Council (@Harrogatebc) July 17, 2020
Andrew Jones, Harrogate and Knaresborough MP, has been contacted for comment but had not responded by the time of publication.
If cases remain at a manageable level for existing hospitals, the Nightingales will continue to offer extra capacity for routine testing and treatment. The Nightingale hospital in Harrogate has been offering CT scanning to non-Covid patients since June 4.
It was set up by armed forces and NHS professionals in just three weeks in spring to offer additional treatment facilities for patients from across Yorkshire and the Humber. Staff were trained on site, staying in local hotels, but no Covid patients were ever admitted and the hospital was eventually put on stand-by.
The NHS was not paying any rent for use of Harrogate Convention Centre under the initial contract. It is not yet clear whether rent will now be payable to Harrogate Borough Council, which owns and runs HCC.