The date for public consultation on controversial proposals to tackle Harrogate traffic congestion has finally been revealed.
After more than a year of discussions, meetings and two separate consultants reports, North Yorkshire County Council decided in January that two packages of options should be put before the public for their views.
Now the date for the start of the public consultation has been announced, though it's exact nature has yet to be revealed.
Coun Don Mackenzie, North Yorkshire County Council’s executive member for access, who on the past has said it was time to act in the face of longer queues of traffic and slower journey times, said: "The relevant officers leading on the Harrogate Congestion Study consultation have updated me on progress.
"It is a very complex subject and we need to get the process absolutely correct.
"We expect to begin advertising the consultation towards the end of March but the consultation is likely to go live only in April."
The decision by NYCC's executive members, which includes only two Harrogate councillors, to take both packages to consultation has proved controversial.
One package identified in the NYCC-commissioned Harrogate Congestion Study report by consultants WSP involves a raft of ‘green’ only measures to discourage car use in Harrogate.
The other combines this with the possibility of a new Killinghall bypass and also a relief road near Nidd Gorge.
Opposition to any idea of a relief road in the Bilton/Nidd Gorge area has been fierce throughout the process, not only from some residents and environmental group, but also Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones and the leader of Harrogate Borough Council.
Harrogate Borough Council leader, Coun Richard Cooper has described the idea of any relief road near the Nidd Gorge as a non-starter because he says it would not help congestion in Harrogate town centre.
He said: "I am certain that the public will reject suggestions of a road that harms so much countryside, cost such a lot of money and has a very limited effect on congestion.
“We can then get on with the serious business of implementing sustainable transport measures rather than this slightly surreal sideshow about an un-needed road through the countryside for which funding will never be available.”
A key decision in next month's public consultation will be who exactly is consulted.
Will it involve 48,000 homes in the Harrogate and Knaresborough area only or a wider area of 75,000 stretching towards Leeds and York?
Coun Don Mackenzie has previously said: “A decision about the precise format of the consultation paper is still to be taken.
“The online consultation will not have geographical boundaries for obvious reasons.
“But when consultation responses are analysed, we will ensure that local views only influence any decision-making.”