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Council letting voluntary groups in Harrogate down, claims councillor

Monday, 20 May 2024 10:43

By Thomas Barrett, Local Democracy Reporter

North Yorkshire Council's headquarters.

A Liberal Democrat councillor has accused North Yorkshire Council of letting Harrogate down by not yet selecting a ‘Community Anchor Organisation’ that could galvanise the town's voluntary sector.

Last year, North Yorkshire Council announced it would partner with a network of organisations to share their experiences, contacts and resources.

Grants of £15,000 a year for up to three years are available.

Although the council has picked 24 anchor organisations across North Yorkshire, so far there is none in Harrogate.

Coun Chris Aldred (Liberal Democrat, High Harrogate & Kingsley) told a full meeting of the council on Wednesday that the “long and drawn out” process to find a suitable organisation has been “very disappointing” for the town’s charitable sector.

Coun Aldred said:

“Community and voluntary organisations within North Yorkshire’s largest town frankly expected better than this from their new ‘most local council’.”

This month the council launched a third public consultation on the creation of a Harrogate Town Council, with elections set to be held in May 2025 if it’s created.

A council spokesperson confirmed to the Local Democracy Reporting Service this week that the combined cost of the three consultations is £118,000.

Coun Aldred suggested the council was not serving the interests of Harrogate residents by delaying the creation of a town council and not yet selecting a Community Anchor Organisation.

But Coun David Chance, the Conservative’s executive member for corporate services, accused Coun Aldred of wanting “instant fixes and not a good realistic outcome”.

He said the council is working with Harrogate & District Community Action to identify an anchor organisation that would be a good fit for the community.

Coun Chance said:

“The Community Anchor Organisation model is about supporting local places and there was always a recognition that the largest urban areas like Harrogate, which both includes a number of distinct areas, will require research to ensure the chosen solution delivers maximum impact.”

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