Outrage as Harrogate drivers take cars onto Stray to avoid Low Traffic Neighbourhood

The guardians of the Stray said today they were to "appalled" to discover some people has been driving their cars onto part of the Stray to circumvent new road blocks as part of the town's first Low Traffic Neighbourhood.

Thursday, 18th February 2021, 5:45 pm
Damage to the Stray - Tyre marks caused by cars trying to avoid new environmental measures at West Park. (Picture courtesy of the Stray Defence Association).

The chair of the association, Judy d'Arcy Thompson said drivers' efforts to avoid the obstructions were not only damaging to the historic Stray but also potentially dangerous for the drivers themselves.

She said: ‘It is appalling that people are driving cars onto the Stray. Although we can understand drivers’ confusion because most seem unaware of the closure before they have driven along Beech Grove, this is not a reason for reckless and careless driving."

The new road blocks were only erected two days ago as part of transport authority North Yorkshire County Council's introduction of a Low Traffic Neighbourhood at Beech Grove and Lancaster Road facing West Park Stray which is protected by law.

Traditionally, because Beech Grove cuts the corner between Otley Road and West Park, drivers have used it as a short cut to get into town without having to use the Prince of Wales Roundabout and so it gets used by some drivers as a rat run to get into town.

Although through-traffic is now banned, the county council says Beech Grove will continue to be open to residents, their visitors, deliveries, emergency vehicles, refuse collections and taxis - and disc parking will remain.

Part of a range of new sustainable transport measures in the pipeline for Harrogate, the aim of the new LTN at West Park is not only cut car use to reduce carbon emissions but to create a more pleasant route for cyclists.

The introduction of planters on the two roads - or elegant crate barricades - as well as new signs warning drivers "experimental closure - no vehicle access to West Park or Lancaster Road means Beech Grove will be able to as a key link for bikes travelling between Otley Road and Victoria Avenue when the town’s new segregated cycle link into the town centre is built.

The scheme would initially be trialled over the next six months and, if it proves to be a success, it could become permanent.

What with the tyre tracks and mud caused by the car which have tried to shave off part of the journey by mounting the Stray, the Stray Defence Association is far from impressed, lambasting both the "reckless" behaviour of motorists and the road blocks themselves.

And the SDA is now calling on the local authorities to take swift action to prevent cars continue to cause damage to the Stray.

Judy d'Arcy Thompson said: "The extremely ugly planters that have been installed to block the roads seem to have been placed quite a way into the route, probably to avoid the increased flooding which now occurs on West Park Stray, spreading as it does across the road.

"Our concern, as always, is for the protection of the Stray and the upholding of the law protecting it. We are engaged in conversation with both North Yorkshire County Council and Harrogate Borough Council about this."

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