Harrogate council spends £45,000 on outside help for failed Levelling Up bid
Last updated Feb 12, 2023
Harrogate Convention Centre

Harrogate Borough Council has revealed it spent £45,000 on outside help when it put together its failed bid for government Levelling Up money.

Last year the council bid for £20 million that would have gone towards a proposed £49 million redevelopment of Harrogate Convention Centre.

But the bid was refused by the government last month, throwing into doubt the future of the venue it has owned and run since opening in 1982.

Following a freedom of information request by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, the authority said it spent £45,000 on “legal, design and financial input and guidance” related to the bid proposal.

A council spokesperson said this was to “ensure the best possible chance” of it being successful.

Despite Harrogate being in the lowest priority area for Levelling Up funding, convention centre director Paula Lorimer told councillors at a meeting last week it would likely bid again when a third round of funding worth £1 billion opens.

Ms Lorimer warned Harrogate would “wither on the vine” if the facility closed because of its importance to the town’s business and leisure sectors.

The ownership of the venue will be handed over to the new North Yorkshire Council on April 1.

Read more:

Andrew Williams, North Yorkshire independent councillor for Ripon Minster and Moorside on North Yorkshire County Council, said he didn’t begrudge Harrogate Borough Council bidding for Levelling Up money but the refusal should show the council “that the government doesn’t think the redevelopment is worthwhile.”

Cllr Williams said:

“The conference centre is going to be a millstone around anybody’s neck.

“There needs to be serious thought put into what commercial uses it can become so that it will not be a drain on the public purse. I don’t support spending £50 million on a business that’s still losing money. Enough is enough when resources is tight.”

A Harrogate Borough Council spokesperson said:

“The costs associated with our bid for the government’s Levelling Up Fund included significant legal, design and financial input and guidance.

“This was required to ensure the best possible chance of the Harrogate Convention Centre’s £20m submission being considered.

“We were disappointed not to be award a grant in this round of funding. But we remain hopeful and have everything we need to submit a bid for any future rounds or other opportunities for government funding.

“We have not yet received any feedback from the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities as to why we were unsuccessful.”

Follow us on

The Stray Ferret Feed