Letter: The Stray - Changes are not a ‘done deal’

The Stray.

The Stray.

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I share the Stray Defence Association’s concern about the possible threat to the Stray posed by Harrogate Council’s decision ‘to consult on the possibility of applying to Parliament to modernise the Stray Act to increase the variety, frequency and size of events permitted’.

Ten years ago I campaigned for what I believed was a vital change to make the Stray Act fit for the 21st century, to enable cyclists to share some paths with pedestrians. This was fully in the spirit of the Act, to allow residents free recreation, and at the same time providing a safe network for cyclists not least pupils at several major schools bordering the Stray.

This campaign, supported by the Harrogate Advertiser, an overwhelming majority of the public and ultimately by the borough and county councils, helped to transform cycling in Harrogate.

I can see benefits in further changes to the Stray, including more shared use paths and safe crossings of Wetherby Road and Oatlands Drive. The 300-400 metre long car park on Coach Road, from North Park Road to Skipton Road, is in my view a visual blot on the Stray. The parking bays should be returned to grass, leaving sufficient road width for moving cars and bikes only.

And it’s time the council enforced Section 8 of the 1985 Act, ‘the removal of unlawfully parked vehicles’ on the Stray.

‘Increasing the variety, frequency and size of events’ seems to me to have little to do with responding to public demand, and more with finding a way to generate revenue at a time when the government is putting local authorities under enormous financial pressure.

As Mick Walsh says, (Letters, November 24) exceptional events like the Tour de France, Tour de Yorkshire and the 2019 Road World Championships, which are coming to Harrogate not least because we have the Stray, can be approved by temporary consents. They do not justify undesirable changes to the Stray Act.

This is definitely not a ‘done deal’. I urge readers to respond to the council consultation at www.harrogate.gov.uk/strayact.

Malcolm Margolis

Harrogate District Cycle

Action