Consultation on plans to relax Stray Act ahead of Tour de France

Tis The Stray at Milton Way, Harrogate.(0906033e)

Tis The Stray at Milton Way, Harrogate.(0906033e)

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A consultation has been launched on potentially relaxing Harrogate’s ancient Stray Act to allow for the arrival of Tour de France.

Harrogate is to host the sprint finish of the first stage of the Tour de France, the Grand Depart, next summer.

Harrogate Borough Council (HBC) says one of the reasons Harrogate was picked was because of its open Stray, which could be used for spectator hubs.

But the land is protected by an ancient law and now, to ask for rules to be temporarily relaxed, HBC has written to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

“Hosting the Tour de France stage one finish in Harrogate next year is probably one of the biggest opportunities ever afforded to the town,” said a council spokesman.

“But like all big events it does come with some challenges.

“One of the attractions for the ASO – the owners of the Tour de France – in choosing Harrogate, was the ability to have an uphill sprint finish (Parliament Street); that could be seen by large crowds; and a large piece of open space (The Stray) – that can be used for spectator hubs.

“They also have to have space for the support vehicles needed to deliver the event that must be located at the finish line which will be near to the Hotel du Vin.

“The Tour de France visiting Harrogate is a unique event and understandably the Stray Act was not drafted with it in mind. The application of certain sections of the Act to the Tour is therefore not clear.

“In order to avoid any uncertainty, HBC has approached the Secretary of State to apply for the temporary relaxation of some of sections of the Stray Act for the limited areas needed for the Tour de France and for the period only from June 23 to July 8.”

Jennifer Norton, chief solicitor, is leading on this for the council which manages the land on behalf of the Duchy of Lancaster.

She said: “We have already spoken to the Duchy to seek their thoughts and they are supportive of our approach. The Act imposes a number of restrictions as to what activities can take place on the Stray.

“ New rules under the recent Localism legislation, give us the opportunity to ask for this relaxation. This is under the *‘general power of competence’.”

The council is keen to stress that as custodians of the Stray, working with organisations such as the Stray Defence Association, the land will be well looked after and will be fully reinstated (if necessary) after the Tour has taken place.

The Secretary of State is now consulting on the proposal to relax relevant sections of the Stray Act.

To view and comment on the consultation documents, visit https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/harrogate-borough-council-general-power-of-competence.

The consultation can also be viewed at the Council Offices, Crescent Gardens, Harrogate.

Responses must be received 7 January 2014.