Fireside chat with Andrew Jones on wellness and balance in Harrogate
I had the good fortune of being invited to my local MP’s office, Andrew Jones, to talk about my beautiful hometown and all its quintessential characteristics of wellbeing and happiness. He had some positive points to offer.
Andrew Jones was kind enough to take time from his busy schedule to discuss just what makes Harrogate such a wonderful town. I found our chat to be extremely informative and enjoyable. Being my first interview with an MP, I was pleasantly surprised to see they are human after all!
How Harrogate strikes a balance
Like myself and many other residents, Mr Jones feels hugely privileged to live in such a balanced, inspiring and welcoming setting. He believes this balance is achieved through the town’s rather unique ability to pack a punch as an important player in terms of commerce, tourism and education, whilst still being able to enjoy the homely comforts normally only associated with a Miss Marplesque village.
Mr Jones is also of the opinion that it is thanks to our town’s high level of educational services, impressive pool of skills and large green spaces we are able to strike this balance. Despite the need for our town to grow – we cannot shut our doors to the growing population or remain untouched by the need for ever-bigger and faster infrastructures – Harrogate is still able to retain its quaint character of cobbled streets and chic cafes mixed with an alluring pull for new commerce and start-ups. How? Because we want it. Start-ups, BID, local entrepreneurs, a vibrant networking community, engaged parents, caring support groups – we all contribute.
In this light, I must also assure local residents that thanks to the simple facts of lower birth statistics, this current rate of accelerated growth will soon settle. This means our schools and roads should also begin to “settle” and the congestion will ease.
Can MPs make a difference?
I recalled an interview with David Cameron in which he said he started his career in politics with great designs to make the country a better place, but was faced with an overwhelming amount of bureaucracy and red tape. This suggests little headway could be made. Thankfully, Harrogate’s MP did not share this view and feels he has been able to make a difference both as a “champion” at a national level and an “influencer” at a local level.
True to his word, Mr Jones has made his stance against the current proposed by-pass through Nidd Gorge perfectly clear in the press. He further underscored the strength of his convictions by being present at the march on Saturday the 25th of May 2019 – Halt the Road.
The presence of a politician was received with positive remarks in my social media feed: “A local MP who actually turns up to try & make a difference. That can’t be a bad thing, can it?”
The importance of the environment
The environment is of particular important in sustaining the balance of our town. Mr Jones does not underestimate the important role large areas of green play in keeping our town one of the “happiest places to live” in the UK. That may explain why a lot of resources are poured into keeping Harrogate beautiful, both by the local council and independent groups such as Harrogate in Bloom. One may be excused for thinking that having aesthetically pleasing surroundings is not important in the grand scheme of things. However, it cannot be denied that the flowers and large open spaces lift the spirits of all who live in and visit the town. Happier people are less stressed, more productive and enjoy a joie de vivre.
But the green must not just be abundant in the form of grass. We need money and financial stability to be happy as well. In keeping with Wellness Harrogate’s ethos of the Six Dimensions of Wellness, Mr Jones reiterated the importance of such security in Harrogate, as well as that of feeling secure in our homes, thanks to the low crime rate.
“Entrepreneurial Community Spirit”
When I asked Mr Jones his opinion on the need to share our formula for balance and wellbeing in Harrogate with other towns, he reminded me that the exchange of best practice is promoted within all councils. Each town has its own methods for improving and maintaining its wellness landscape. Furthermore, what may work for one town may not be suitable for another. He commented on the fact that we all love our hometowns for different reasons, wherever we live in the UK.
In his opinion there is no need to create a new forum or to create “twinned wellness towns” (an idea I toyed with), as there is already so much being contributed by local communities. Harrogate does indeed have a lot of community groups offering support. Mr Jones believes it is this “confluence of communities” that makes a town like Harrogate so positive and welcoming. He admires the “entrepreneurial community spirit” of our town – and country – and believes that if anything should be promoted, it is this spirit.
So on that note, I would like to make special mention of Harrogate CVS, run by Karen Weaver, and all the great work they carry out there. And now I invite you to add a local community group you feel should be included on our Wellness Harrogate site to help spread their good work and message, as well as let others know there is support out there for them.
I don’t think I need to end by saying that I hope Mr Jones will continue to be an influencer for the wellness and balance of Harrogate, as I have a feeling that this is a given. All I need hope for is that all MPs continue to contribute to the wellbeing of their town and support its residents, young and old alike, in leading fulfilling lives so that they in turn want to make a positive contribution to their local community wellness.