Harrogate International Festivals Redundancies A Huge Loss To Our District, MP Hasn't Done Enough

By Conor McKenzie, Oct 20, 2020 6:10

Local Liberal Democrats have expressed deep regret in over half of Harrogate International Festivals' workers being made redundant.

The party has been campaigning for several months to extend the furlough scheme, at least for the struggling events, conference, and hospitality sectors which make up so much of Harrogate's local economy.

Harrogate & Knaresborough's Conservative MP described fears over local redundancies as "alarmist", something widely judged to be a short-sighted and out of touch with local residents' worries.

Last month, over 200 Harrogate & Knaresborough residents wrote to Andrew Jones pleading with him to lobby the Government for an extension to the furlough scheme, although never received a response.

Commenting, Councillor Pat Marsh said:

"Harrogate International Festivals (HIF) has had great staff doing amazing work; they have been a real boost to local businesses in the town and across the district.

"When Covid restrictions relax again, we know organisations like HIF will be the route to local economic recovery. That's why ending the furlough scheme this month is premature – how can we expect businesses bounce back effectively if they've had to lay off more than half of their staff?

"It's disappointing that Andrew Jones has decided that party loyalty is more important than representing his struggling constituents, even dismissing people's fears over redundancy as 'alarmist'.

"It's been blindingly obvious for months that many parts of our local economy are unable to recover under the current restrictions. With redundancy processes underway it's now too late to save many local jobs, but unless the Government extends the furlough scheme – at least for the conference and hospitality sectors – many more will be lost."

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