Ex-council chief -‘Stray proposals are not as modest as made out’

Worried about Stray - Ex-Harrogate Borough Council chief executive Mick Walsh.
Worried about Stray - Ex-Harrogate Borough Council chief executive Mick Walsh.

As one of the authors of the 1985 Act protecting the Stray, ex-Harrogate council chief executive Mick Walsh believes the threat to the Stray is bigger than the current council is suggesting in its bid to relax the rules over public events.

He is also of the opinion changing the Stray Act will be a financially expensive process.

Mick Walsh said: “If the intent is to promote events to provide a subsidy to general Council budgets that is clearly in contravention of the essential privileges conferred under Section 5 to residents and the objects of the legislation going back many years.

“For myself I do not believe these proposals are as modest as they are made out to be.”

“The more the Stray is enclosed the greater the threat to that centuries old privilege enjoyed by Harrogate residents.

“What is all this going to cost (as I explained before, promulgating new legislation is costly)?”

In reply Harrogate Borough Council’s deputy leader Coun Michael Harrison admitted changing the rules would be costly but made new assurances on the protection of the Stray.

Coun Harrison said: “There will be cost attached to the changes we are seeking and it will be significant.

“The concern seems to be that the proposed changes are motivated by a desire to earn income for the Council. We can state categorically that this is not the case.

“If, following the consultation, we do seek to amend the legislation we can reassure the public that those core principles will not be touched and the Stray will not be built upon. “This is about relaxing or modernising the temporary events or inclosures that are permitted.”

Stray consultation exhibition

As part of the public consultation which ends on February 6, the council is holding an informative Stray exhibition in the foyer at St Peter’s Church on Cambridge Street.

The exhibition is open to the public weekdays plus Sunday, January 29, 11am-2.30pm and Saturday, February 4, 11am-2.30pm.

The public consultation is available to complete at www.harrogate.gov.uk/strayact