A SKIPTON street has become a centre of new business activity with the opening of a new travel agency, the relocation of an insurance business and the emergence of a new estate agents and chartered surveyors.

On Saturday Skipton's mayor, Councillor John Dawson, was in Newmarket Street to ‘cut the ribbon’ at the official opening of the newest branch of Spear Travels, formerly Neil Rankin Travel.

To celebrate the opening Spear has teamed up Skipton’s quirky new café, The Cake ‘Ole in Craven Court, and id offering a free afternoon tea for two people (worth £17) with all new bookings confirmed between now and July 31.

Every Thursday from today until September 11, the travel agency will host a series of in-store promotions with some of the UK’s most popular holiday companies, including Jet2 Holidays, Shearings Holidays, Silversea Cruises and Omega Holidays.

And Spear Travels has also been named by the British Travel Awards (BTA) as a contender for two prestigious national awards – ‘Best UK Independent Travel Agent’ and ‘Best Travel Retailer for Customer Service’.

Managing director Peter Cookson said: “We are delighted to have been nominated for a British Travel Award and to be recognised as one of the best travel agents in the UK is certainly something of which to be proud.

“We are an independent travel agent providing our customers with unbiased advice, and our experience suggests there are still plenty of travellers out there who prefer the personal touch to a remote, impersonal online booking experience.”

BTA’s chief executive, Lorraine Barnes Burton, said: “Spear Travels is to be congratulated on reaching the voting stage of the prestigious British Travel Awards, the largest consumer voted awards programme in the UK. The BTAs winning accolade is the benchmark for excellence when it comes to finding out who really is the best in the business of travel for the UK consumer. There are more companies in the competition than ever before, and some great vote-incentive prizes for consumers. We will be promoting the voting period to over seven million potential voters via our media partnerships and direct email campaigns to previous voters and this year we are expecting a record number of votes, so good luck to Spear Travels!”

The winners will be the companies with the most votes - in 2013 over one million votes were cast with the voting process and results scrutinised and audited by independent auditors Deloitte LLP. The winners of the 2014 British Travel Awards will be announced at a glittering ceremony on 26 November at the Battersea Evolution in Battersea Park, London.

Also in Newmarket Street, White Rose Insurance Solutions recently celebrated the opening of its new office, having moved from Keighley Road to the larger and more centrally located premises.

The business, which also has an office in Settle has a reputation as a professional, friendly and personal insurance broker offering a wide range of insurance solutions.

Director Andy Gould said: 'We are a traditional insurance broker looking after the needs of individuals and businesses throughout the area. Having a town centre office is good news for local customers who can now easily drop in and discuss their needs, rather than dealing with some faceless company on the internet, possibly on the other side of the world."

Office manager Christina Reynoldson said: "People have realised that the internet is not all its made out to be when it comes to buying their insurance and can actually use us to source competitive products with a service attached, which takes the worry out of the equation should something go wrong."

Anybody wanting to contact White Rose Insurance will be able to do so on the same number, 01756 790505, or by calling in at 21 Newmarket Street.

And Newmarket Street is also where new estate agents and chartered surveyors Carling Jones, an independent firm offering specialist advice on residential and commercial property, have chosen to open a new office.

The company stresses that its team brings both local knowledge and extensive experience to the property scene.