Christmas market cancelled following site licence refusal

Organisers of the Christmas market planned for Harrogate’s Montpellier Hill Stray site say the event will not be able to go ahead this year.

As reported earlier this month, Harrogate Borough Council declined to issue a licence for the event to be staged at this location.

The council argued that significant safety concerns about holding the market here had still not been properly addressed.

But market organisers countered they had done everything possible to fulfil recommended security and safety measures. They said they had not been given a chance to meet council officers and other key experts to discuss outstanding issues.

Now, Brian Dunsby, of the market organising group, said he and his colleagues had been told Harrogate Borough Council will not negotiate any further on their application for a licence for Montpellier Hill.

He added: “They have refused our request for a top-level meeting about this original setting, to review and hopefully resolve the outstanding issues, whilst there is still time to save the Harrogate Christmas Market this year.

“We realise that the council leaders want us to relocate elsewhere but we cannot find anywhere else suitable – and there is insufficient time to rearrange the large number of details involved.

“We now have 172 market traders applications waiting for acceptance whilst there are already 55 coaches planning to come to Harrogate during the market.

“We have been pleased to provide Harrogate with a successful Christmas Market for eight years, with local traders, local products and supporting many local charities.

“Over the past five years we have contributed over £90,000 to local charities and similar organisations. The peak attendance was over 85,000 visitors during our four open days.

“We are extremely saddened at this unfortunate outcome.”

In his response earlier this month, Councillor Richard Cooper, leader of Harrogate Borough Council, said the council’s decision not to issue the site licence was made on the basis of advice given by the emergency services.

“If the feedback from them is that they have concerns about safety, then we have little choice but to decline a licence,” he said.

The council added the success of the market had “outgrown what can be safely delivered” in the Montpellier Hill location.

Talks are now taking place over a possible alternative Christmas Market elsewhere in Harrogate, which would be operated by Market Place Europe (MPE).

Cllr Cooper added this week: “I’d like to thank Mr Dunsby and his team for all they have done over the years. I’m sorry they couldn’t make it work in their favoured location this time.

“The door is open for them to work with the borough council, and business groups, to ensure a safe and enjoyable event in the future.

“There is though going to be a brilliant Christmas market in Harrogate town centre this year and we welcome a suitable event management plan from the new organisers.

“The market will hopefully run alongside a variety of Christmas-themed events in December and we looking forward to welcoming people from far afield for a magical festive experience.”