No quick fix to solve Ripon’s economic woes warns manager

Ripon City Development Manager Angela Harris.  (120726M8a)
Ripon City Development Manager Angela Harris. (120726M8a)

Transforming Ripon’s economy will not happen over night, the city’s new development manager has warned.

Angela Harris took up the post in May this year after the city council decided to employ a dedicated development manager in a bid to boost the city’s ailing economy.

“It won’t happen overnight, just because this post is here,” she said.

Six weeks in, Ms Harris has presented the city council with a plan mapping out the projects already at work in the city – including developing the city as a shopping destination, and a bid to help businesses with better broadband connections.

The city’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats have stayed the same over the last ten years, the plan said, and issues the city faces have not been resolved despite development teams funded by the EU and Yorkshire Forward working in the city at various times over the last decade.

Now the city needs “less fanfare and more action” to improve Ripon’s fortunes in the future, she added.

Her first project is already complete. With help from Lightwater Valley, a ‘Discover Ripon’ video to promote the city to tourists has been produced and posted on Youtube which has been accepted by Visit Britain and Welcome to Yorkshire websites, and is available for local hotels to display to their guests.

The next planned project for Ripon will see an administrative hub set up to support groups like the Civic Society, GRIP, Ripon Ring and the Chamber of Trade and help them achieve more by pooling resources.

Ms Harris said her role is also to boost tourist numbers to the area, she said, including coach parties. She is working with Ripon youth group Evolve to create maps and trails to direct visitors around the city, and wants to see North Yorkshire and Harrogate Borough Councils get involved by improving coach parks and reconsidering charging on the Market Place car park, she said.

“We have to think about whether charging for car parking on the market square is the best way of getting income into the city, and if not whether we have a better plan.”

But plans are not confined to the tourism and retail economies. Ms Harris said she wants to help local employers with better training and other needs.

Meet Ripon’s new manager

“I have chosen to take a low profile through the first weeks of her job, giving me time to learn more about the project already at work in Ripon,” Ms Harris said.

But she has already met many traders in the town through Chamber of Trade meetings where she is a member and sits onthe executive.

Other business people or traders who want to meet the new city manager to talk about problems they face or discuss plans for Ripon are invited to contact Angela Harris at her town hall office, either on email at on 01765 604097 or 07788 253547.