The Harrogate Advertiser has learnt that the public consultation for ideas to tackle Harrogate's appalling road congestion will run for a whole 12 weeks.
The consultation is being run by North Yorkshire County Council after more than a year of discussions, meetings and two separate Harrogate Congestion Study reports by WSP, the powerful international agency which offers a planning consultancy service, as well as providing transportation and infrastructure engineering services to a wide variety of public and private sector clients.
The decision to consider two packages was made by the county council's, executive members, who include only two Harrogate councillors.
As a result, the public will be allowed to make their voice heard on one package with a raft of ‘green’ measures to discourage car use in Harrogate plus a second package of measures including some sustainable measures but also the possibility of a new Killinghall bypass and a new 'relief road' through residential Bilton and beauty spot Nidd Gorge.
The latter option has already been firmly rejected by Harrogate and Knaresborough MP and Transport Minister Andrew Jones and by the majority of Harrogate county councillors including Harrogate Borough Council leader, Coun Richard Cooper.
They argue the 'relief road' would, in reality, offer no solution to Harrogate's town centre congestion as the WSP report's own figures showed most congestion in Harrogate is caused by people who want to get into the town centre rather than avoid it.
The Harrogate Advertiser now understands that the engagement with the public will start on April 15 and run to July 8.
A key question over the county council's public consultation is what the details of the format will be.
Green groups and residents groups in Harrogate have long claimed the real reason behind the drive for new roads is to support economic growth rather than deal with congestion.
Their new worry is over the nature of the public consultation is whether it will involve only the 48,000 homes in the Harrogate and Knaresborough area or a much wider area including 75,000+ heading towards Skipton, Leeds and York who feel less affinity for Harrogate's problems.
But the county councillor most associated with the whole issue, Coun Don Mackenzie, North Yorkshire County Council’s executive member for access, is already on the record as saying it is local views which will count most in the public consultation.
In early January he said: “A decision about the precise format and wording of the consultation papers will be the subject of a report to come to North Yorkshire County Council’s business and environmental services executive in the near future.
“The online consultation will not have geographical boundaries for obvious reasons.
“On the other hand, when consultation responses are analysed, due account will be taken to ensure that local views only influence any decision-making.”