Ultra-strict rules to protect Harrogate’s most famous landmark The Stray may be relaxed in future to hold more public events if Harrogate Borough Council has its way - but it's up the public to have their say.
Changing the terms of the Stray Act, which protects the town’s treasured green space, is likely to provoke strong reactions across the town.
The Harrogate Advertiser is asking readers for their views in its letters page in print and online via its Facebook page as the council prepares to launch its consultation next month on what would be the biggest revolution to hit The Stray since the the Enclosure Act was first passed in 1770.
The guardians of this 200-acre stretch of open grassland, the Stray Defence Association, are expressing caution over the news.
Chairman Judy d’Arcy Thompson said: “The beauty and tranquilty of The Stray is synonymous with Harrogate. It’s the first thing people see when they drive into town or arrive by train.
“The Stray Defence Association will be looking at the proposals very carefully. The consultations will certainly have to be extra thorough and held at a time when people an be expected to take an interest.
“It is too important an issue to be rushed through in any way, shape or form. We understand certain parts of the council’s viewpoint but we always say that we have not inherited the Stray from our parents, we have borrowed it from our children.”
Harrogate Borough Council says the restrictions of the Stray Act cause it regular difficulties when it comes to extra requests to hold smaller, innovative events such as local food festivals, concerts, and, even, plans for next year’s Tour de Yorkshire.
Coun Michael Harrison, deputy leader of Harrogate Borough Council, said: “We are not looking to drastically increase the number of events that are held on the land, we are simply wanting to be able to have more flexibility over how the Stray can be used.
"I believe amending the Stray Act would have a real benefit for the community, and I look forward to hearing people’s views on the proposal.”
The SDA will be holding a meeting to discuss the proposal next week.
The council is likely to launch its public consultation on November 14.