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 £20m that would have gone towards a proposed £49m redevelopment of the 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.

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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, the HCC’s director, Paula Lorimer, told councillors at a meeting this week it would likely bid again when a third round of funding worth £1bn opens.

Ms Lorimer warned that Harrogate would “wither on the vine” if the facility ever closed because of its importance in 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.

Andrew Williams, North Yorkshire independent councillor for Ripon Minster & Moorside on North Yorkshire County Council, said he didn’t begrudge HBC 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 £50m 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.


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“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.”