Plea to Government over appalling condition of Stray in Harrogate

The guardians of the Stray are so alarmed over damage and delays at the mud-covered West Park that they have taken their concerns to the Government.

Thursday, 31st October 2019, 11:19 am
Water-logged, muddy and fenced off - The Stray in Harrogate this week. (Picture Gerard Binks)

Complaints have been growing since the UCI cycling championships ended, not only over the muddy and smelly condition of parts of the Stray but also the failure of organisers Yorkshire 2019 to hand back the land at West Park.

It is nearly three weeks since the October 4 deadline passed for handing the water-logged site back as stipulated in the amendment of the Harrogate Stray Act 1985 introduced temporarily to enable a UCI Fan Zone to be built for the international event.

Harrogate Borough Council told the Harrogate Advertiser previously that recent wet weather had slowed down the process of Yorkshire 2019 leaving the site, which would then allow its parks department to begin tackling repair work and the reseeding of damaged grass in earnest.

Safety fears over Stray - Independent business woman Hazel Barry, managing director of award-winning Harrogate-based skin care products business H2k.

Impatient with the lack of progress, members of the Stray Defence Association have raised their concerns to Michael Gove MP in his capacity as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster claiming that the situation means Harrogate Borough Council is now in breach of the law.

A spokesperson for the SDA said: “As West Park Stray remains fenced off and inaccessible to the people of Harrogate, with no information as to how long this situation will continue, The Stray Defence Association have contacted both the Duchy of Lancaster and the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government expressing their concerns that both the Ministerial Order, allowing the temporary suspension of the Stray Act until 22:00hrs on Friday 4th October, and the 1985 Parliamentary Stray Act itself, have been breached.”

In response to the Stray Defence Association’s complaints, the Duchy of Lancaster has said it is pressing the issue with the council.

A statement by the Duchy issued to the SDA said: “Our chief executive has written to the chief executive of Harrogate Borogh Council with a copy to the leader of the council requesting the urgent publication of the council’s programme for rectifying all damage. We will press for a response and I will let the SDA know when we hear further.”

Coun Andy Paraskos, Harrogate Borough Council’s cabinet member for environment, waste reduction and recycling, said the council was in contact with the Duchy of Lancaster about its efforts to repair and reopen the Stray.

He said: “We have responded directly to the Duchy of Lancaster’s concerns and shared with them our plans for reinstatement that will be subject to weather and ground conditions.”

The SDA has also received a number of complaints from residents near West Park over the fencing which remains around the Stray, blocking the public footpaths into town with growing fears for pedestrians' safety.

The council says, although it is determined to reopen as many footpaths as possible at West Park as soon as possible, public safety had to come first.

Coun Paraskos said: “We are disappointed as much as the next person that the West Park area of the Stray is still fenced off, but this has been done for the right reasons.

“As we highlighted in our video update on YouTube, the ground is still particularly waterlogged in certain areas and cannot be opened. Someone could quite easily sink in the mud, trip over the damaged footpaths, or injure themselves.”

Fears over Stray - what an independent business located near the Stray at West Park says

Hazel Barry, managing director of award-winning skin care products business H2k of 31 Montpellier Parade, Harrogate

She said: "I appreciate the Stray needs to be kept from people walking in the mud, but given this is six months away from being mended, I wondered if the council could perhaps open the paths, so at least the people of Harrogate could walk across the Stray?

"Do you think it would be worth suggesting they could put the barriers at the side of the paths then people could at least access the other side of the Stray?

"I pass it every morning and see people crossing over at the “Prince of Wales” roundabout and it’s only a matter of time before somebody is injured or killed as they can’t walk past the Stray.

"It’s frightening really as many of these are kids coming home from school or people with kids trying to get from the south side to Valley Gardens."