A media briefing at the Cairn Hotel in Harrogate by North Yorkshire County Council this morning, Monday at 10am revealed the details of public consultation on possible ideas to tackle Harrogate and Knaresborough's traffic congestion.
Although the county council's transport expert Coun Don Mackenzie, the executive member for access, stressed repeatedly that no decisions had yet been made and the process was still in its very early stages, some significant information was revealed about the engagement which will be run by the county council from Monday, April 15, until Monday, July 8.
Public consultation on Harrogate/Knaresborough traffic congestion: What it will involve
The consultation will be primarily web-based, though there will be a paper version available and there will also be a series of public exhibitions about it, too.
The online part will not be available at the county councils' website BEFORE Monday, April 15.
As to whether the questions on the questionnaire will be specifically grouped under packages B and E, there has been some confusion.
At the third attempt at asking a spokesperson for North Yorkshire County Council said on Tuesday, April 9: "While material on our web pages will refer to packages B and E, on the questionnaire the types of measures will not be grouped under B and E. The feedback from the questionnaires will tell us how people feel about each of the different types of measure, rather than specifically how they feel about packages B and E."
NB The two packages emerged from two separate Harrogate Congestion Study reports by WSP, the powerful international transportation and infrastructure engineering agency.
Package B contains a range of sustainable green measures while Package E contains sustainable green measures + a Killinghall bypass and an 'inner relief road' starting in Bilton.
The consultation will be involve the 48,000 households in Harrogate and Knaresborough but it will be open to anyone to respond.
Although anyone can take part online, when weighing up the results of the consultation, the county council will give priority to the views of local residents in Harrogate and Knaresborough postcode areas.
That's 90,000 people in the area effected directly and 20,000 nearby.
The online questionnaire will be 'indicative' and has been designed with the input of WSP, to test the public's opinions on general issues and solutions, rather than concrete policies.
But the questionnaire, which will include 20 questions in total of a non yes/no variety, will include one on the already identified 150 metre wide corridor of a potential 'inner relief road' from Bilton to Forest Lane Head going near the sewage works in Bilton but not onto Bilton Lane, past Nidd Gorge but not crossing the River Nidd.
Such a road, if it was ever to be built, would not be dual carriageway, it would be single lane.
The county council will also be sending a flyer to every resident as part of the consultation.
There will a series of public exhibitions, (including the same information as online) where the public can meet county councillors and officers to discuss the issues.
The public exhibitions are likely to take place at the following locations, dates to be announced.
Two afternoons and two evenings plus one Saturday in Harrogate at the Cairn Hotel.
Two afternoons and two evenings in Knaresborough at the Best Western Hotel in Knaresborough.
One evening in Killinghall plus one evening at Pannal and Burn Bridge, hopefully in conjunction with the parish councils.
There will also be a publicity campaign via the local press and social media.
There will be signposts on the consultation erected at railways stations, bus shelters and major roads.
The total number of local residents consulted will be 90,000.
On past history of public engagements on road issues, the county council is hopeful of a response of 10 per cent, equating to 8,000 to 10,000 members of the public.
In 1990, a public consultation on a new road at Killinghall which never happened garnered 7,000 responses.
The county council will spend more than a month assessing the responses professionally.
There will then be a meeting of county councillors for Harrogate and Knaresborough on August 29 and a meeting of county councillors for Skipton and Ripon on September 6.
Both the public responses and the viewpoints of the above meetings will be passed to North Yorkshire County Council's executive later this year who will further consider the options.
Any decision on a specific preferred route is at least 12 months away.
If the county council executive was to decide on a preferred option for any new road, there would then be a whole new round of public consultation.
Any new road would also require funding to be secured and, eventually, a planning application would have to be submitted.