Knaresborough Castle could host more events as new era dawns
Feb 2, 2023

Knaresborough Castle could stage more large scale public events in the wake of major political changes.

North Yorkshire Council will assume control of the castle when Harrogate Borough Council ceases to exist at the end of next month.

Councillor Carl Les and Richard Flinton, who will be leader and chief executive respectively of North Yorkshire Council, are due to visit the town on February 15 when they will discuss the future of the medieval fortress.

There was optimism at last night’s meeting of Knaresborough and District Chamber that the change of ownership could herald a bright new era for the castle, which was seized by Oliver Cromwell’s Parliamentarian troops in 1644 during the Civil War.

Knaresborough Castle, which overlooks the River Nidd, will be the only castle in the county controlled by North Yorkshire Council and there is a feeling among chamber members that the new leadership will be open to fresh ideas — including holding more events at the site.

Chamber member Bill Taylor told the meeting:

“The castle is massively under-utilised. I’ve been in Knaresborough 24 years and can only remember four or five big events.”

Peter Lacey, executive member of the chamber, said the key issue was to extend the lease on the land, which is owned by the Duchy of Lancaster.

Mr Lacey said the current lease is due to expire in about eight years and it was difficult to plan how to use the site until North Yorkshire Council negotiated an extension.

He added Knaresborough had “lots of willing partners” keen to work with the new council on initiatives at the castle and its grounds.

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Cllr Les has said the new council will champion “double devolution” by giving powers to local areas.

He previously said:

“We believe this double devolution which passports powers from Whitehall to the town hall and the town hall to the village hall is an exciting prospect.

“We are seeking more powers from the government, but we want more powers to be devolved to the very local area as well. We want to bring people together to get more things done at a local level.”

Mr Lacey said:

“When Carl Les says the council has the ambition to be the most local as well as the largest unitary council in the country, we will take him at his word.

“Knaresborough has been a spoke of Harrogate Borough Council for many years and now we want to become our own hub.”

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