Stray is finally handed back to the public in Harrogate after repairs

The Stray at West Park has finally been reopened to the public, ten months after a major sporting event left it looking like a muddy quagmire.

Wednesday, 12th August 2020, 12:53 pm
This aerial image shows the difference in the Stray in Harrogate at West Park.

Workmen this week removed the remaining plastic orange fences which had been erected to protect the parkland while major restoration work was carried out on grass decimated when Harrogate hosted the UCI cycling championships last September.

A delighted Harrogate Borough Council, which authorised the restoration, said it had taken a lot of hard work to restore the Stray but it was grateful for the hundreds of positive comments it received this week after the reopening.

Coun Andrew Paraskos, cabinet member for environment, waste reduction and recycling, said: “This project hasn’t been taken lightly. It has been months of hard work and the appointment of multi-award winning green space specialists.

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“You’ve only got to look at the results this week to see the area is better than before and with the addition of the drainage system it can now be used throughout the year.

"These specialists will also continue to be involved by monitoring and maintaining the site for the coming months."

But the Stray Defence Association, the parkland’s guardians since 1933, claims West Park Stray is still not entirely free of the scars caused by the global cycling event during a rain-soaked nine days in 2019.

The SDA’s chair, Judy d’Arcy Thompson said: “We are pleased that it is to be given back to the people of Harrogate. From a distance the area looks beautifully green but we are deeply concerned that it is not in a safe enough state for it to have been reopened to the public, allowing full access.

“We are extremely worried that an elderly person might stumble and fall on a stone or a toddler could tumble in a divot and be injured.

"That is why we have written to the council's leader urging the council to carry out an immediate inspection of the whole of the West Park Stray."

But the council dismissed any hint that reopening the West Park area of the Stray was in any way a risk.

Coun Paraskos said: “We have routinely addressed comments from the SDA asking for when the area will be reopened. Now that it has been, they appear to be the first one to criticise.

"The suggestion that opening the West Park area of the Stray is dangerous is simply ridiculous. There have always been stones in this area of the Stray, we haven’t put them there!

“This information has routinely been shared directly to the SDA.

"We’ve also offered them the chance to speak to our own experts if they so wish. An offer they’ve not accepted as of yet.

“I’d like to thank everyone’s patience while we have carried out this work and thank them for the hundreds of positive comments we’ve received in just the last two days.”

The grass repairs were budgeted to cost £38,000 with £35,000 of that paid by the company set up by the Government to run the UCI event. In addition, the council planned to spend £95,000 on a range of improvements at West Park, though it says £65,385 of this was not new money and had already been set aside.