Thursday, 8 November 2018

Even more thoughts on a Harrogate Relief Road

Cairn Hotel in town this morning, NYCC are presenting their addendum to a report on congestion in Harrogate.

We are now offered:

A modified package B - sustainable interventions of many kinds, but including bus lanes, bike lanes, town centre pedestrianisation and crucially road space taken off cars, (not sure why no park and ride in this package seems daft).


Package E (iii) which is the sustainable stuff above, plus a park and ride, plus a relief road (the blue line above) but with no junction on Bilton Lane.

Many people speak at the start, the best for me are a guy Tony Hart (sorry if I got your name wrong) who is hilarious but also eloquently opposes the route in many ways.

The Keeping Nidd Gorge Gorgeous guy also has a go and was rousing and clearly angry, he feels North Yorkshire Council have produced a report that is not fit for purpose, as we still don't have enough detail on the proposed route. I cheered at the end, many loudly applauded and the meeting chair gave up on asking the crowd to be quiet, he must have known when he was beaten.

This morning Andrew Jones MP was on the front page of the Advertiser opposing a relief road. Graham Chalmers was dishing out papers at the start, nice touch it set the scene.

When Councillors commented on the report, Richard Cooper - Harrogate Borough Councils leader did the same as Andrew Jones and rather well. I have had my fallings out with Richard in the past over a bike crossing, but he was good today. He essentially said he was dead against the road as it would destroy the gorge, the greenway, the golf course and a fair few people's houses (he didn't mention Henshaws, but they look like they are in the line of fire too). He said we should go for sustainable initiatives big time and then if people still wanted to drive they can sit in the traffic. Music to my ears.

Don Mackenzie defended the idea of consulting on both packages, his view though is I feel to build a road. He said something along the lines of getting people out of cars is dead hard and people in his constituency want less traffic in Harrogate. I don't know if Don is motivated by a belief a road will work, or if he is interested in East -West connectivity but he seems willing to defend his view against a fair bit of political and public opposition.

What happens now is I guess that both packages will go to public consultation. What matters if that happens, is that all 100,000 Harrogate residents get a chance to respond and not the whole of North Yorkshire. Don Mackenzie said that was what would happen let's hold him to his word.  Richard Cooper though thinks the road will never happen even if it gets to the funding stage. We shall see.

For me ultimately I think the clinching questions are, and bear in mind initially I thought a relief road was an ok idea but it would be fair to say my view has changed.

  1. Will a relief road work? Based on the report(s), which I think fail to make a convincing case and the experience of other places were roads like this have been built and overall traffic volumes have increased. I have profound doubts, and so I don't believe it is worth a 100 million quid punt.
  2. Is it worth stuffing up the gorge, the golf course, Henshaws and the Greeenway for now we know that's where it would go? For me no, I would rather do sustainable stuff and over time behaviour will change or people will sit in cars.

More on the meeting from the advertiser here

To be continued...


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