Harrogate motorists face another six weeks of roadworks chaos when work on Woodlands junction begins next week.
North Yorkshire County Council say the remodelling of Woodlands junction - where the A661 Wetherby Road crosses Hookstone Drive - will reduce queues, improve air quality and provide better facilities for pedestrians and cyclists, However local councillors and residents have blasted the council for failing to consult the public on the plans.
County Coun David Simister (UKIP: Bilton and Nidd Gorge) said: “It appears North Yorkshire County Council’s first rule of consultation is there is no consultation!
“Some local traders on Wetherby Road- who will undoubtedly suffer whilst this work is being carried out - only received a letter last week informing when it was going to start and the nature of the scheme.
“The county council is simply not listening and is not interested in seeking the views of those who live and work and use this junction on a daily basis.”
The work includes reducing the number of lanes from three to two, as was done at the Leeds Road junction with Hookstone Road to accommodate the new M&S Food store.
Coun Simister said that the remodelling at Leeds Road failed to improve the junction and called for Harrogate to have more say over its road network.
He said: “The new road layout will be almost identical to what has been undertaken on Leeds Road to accommodate the new M&S, and that certainly has not made any improvements. In fact I would say to the contrary.
“As I have said before, the time has come for Harrogate to take back control of its highways from Northallerton.”
Steve Carr, landlord of The Woodlands Pub at the junction only found out about the council’s plans last week.
He said: “The work will cause major delays whilst it is being carried out and will result in a loss of trade for me and others.
“Looking at the plans, these ‘improvements’ will do nothing to improve traffic flows. If the county council had bothered to consult then we could have told them so. It’s clear the so called experts in Northallerton do not have to use Wetherby Road on a regular basis. If they did they would rip up these plans, start again.”
North Yorkshire County Council admit that the six weeks of roadworks ‘will inevitably lead to traffic delays and queuing.’ However County Coun Gareth Dadd (Con, Thirsk), the executive member for Highways said the changes will improve life for nearby residents.
He said: “The improvements to this junction will significantly reduce congestion and improve air quality, therefore the quality of life for people living in and travelling through Harrogate.
“Although the works are to start shortly so we can complete the improvements in the shortest time while the weather is favourable.”
Harrogate Borough Council leader, Coun Richard Cooper (Con, High Harrogate) said: “We cannot improve traffic flow without changing the layouts of some of the junctions in the town.
“These junctions were originally intended to deal with much lower levels of traffic than we see now. There will be some disruption while these changes occur and this will be kept to a minimum.”
He added: “The best way to beat congestion though is for people to use alternative methods of transport where possible and to share journeys too.”
Harrogate’s Lib Dems raised the lack of public consultation issue at Harrogate Borough Council’s full council meeting on Wednesday evening (July 16).
Coun Helen Flynn, (Lib Dem, Nidd Valley) said: “I am keen that Harrogate Borough Council and North Yorks County Council adopt the code to mitigate some of the problems that occurred during the nine months of work on Leeds Road.
“I am convinced that effective consultation with all interested parties at an early stage can help alleviate such issues and ensure that works are carried out in the most efficient way.”
Hookstone ward Coun Pat Marsh (Lib Dem) said she was not consulted or notified of the start date. “I find it a disgrace that large-scale roadworks of this importance are taking place without first consulting local residents and businesses and other interested parties. Had I known well in advance, I could have helped spread the word and encouraged people to come forward with their views.
“It is vital that we engage people in the civic process so that local democracy becomes meaningful.”