This week the Harrogate Advertiser’s Great Stray Debates offers the opportunity to the Stray Defence Association.
Its chairman, Judy d’Arcy Thompson said: “Blandishments and balderdash immediately sprang to mind when reading Coun Harrison’s words in last week’s Harrogate Advertiser.
“Although it is now obvious that the Council do wish to radically alter the current Act of Parliament protecting the Stray, for reasons best known to himself Coun Michael Harrison refuses to tell the people of the town precisely what the council’s plans are.
“How can people be expected to respond? What exactly are they being consulted about?
“On the assumption that altering an Act of Parliament is likely to be an expensive exercise, does he really expect people to believe that Harrogate’s Council would undertake such a mission without having clear views of what they want.
“More to the point, that those views would give them enough future flexibility to use the Stray for all manner of longer and larger events?
“If not, then why spend all that money doing it?
“Why can we not be told exactly what the Council and their legal team have planned?
“Coun Harrison states that, ‘there will be no buildings, no car parks.’
“Yet in their, ‘Proposal to enable Harrogate Borough Council to use the general power of competence to host a stage of the Tour de Yorkshire 2017’, there is a map which clearly shows an area required for ‘Car parking facilities on area 2’.
“This is accompanied by a lengthy list of other requirements, including:
l “An enclosed secure technical zone to park up to 100 trucks.
l “Temporary surfaces/roads for support vehicles (support vehicles consisting of team cars, cars for officials and medical vehicles).
l “Additional temporary roads as a “peel off” to the side road to avoid a bottle neck’.
“Temporary or not, that looks very much like car and truck parking on the Stray to me.
“This is for the Tour de Yorkshire in 2017. What on earth might we expect for the event Harrogate is hosting in 2019, the Road World Championships?
“Do the Council want the new Parliamentary Act by then, in order that they can use the Stray as much as, and for whatever, they wish?
“Again, Coun Harrison says that they wish to have, ‘a clear picture of what the people of Harrogate want.’
“Why then did they begin the whole consultation exercise at the Christmas Market?
“Could it be because a very large proportion of the 60.000 visitors here that weekend were not from Harrogate?
“Coun Harrison states that peoples’ views in letters are, ‘wide of the mark’, that this is not the “thin end of the wedge.”
“Well to add to the clichés, this secretive stance by our Council is not, ‘cutting the mustard’.
“Believe me when I say that Harrogate is in danger of losing control over what is arguably its greatest asset, the Stray.
“Without the constraints of the current Parliamentary Act it will be used, and abused, beyond all recognition for much of the year.
“If the people of Harrogate do not take a stand now and allow their rights over the Stray to be relinquished, they will never be returned. And nor will our Stray.”