Harrogate anti-relief group road 'exaggerated' - claim

Coun Don Mackenzie, North Yorkshire County Councils executive member for highways and passenger transport.
Coun Don Mackenzie, North Yorkshire County Councils executive member for highways and passenger transport.

The man leading the current public consultation on tackling traffic congestion in Harrogate and Knaresborough has attacked a residents' campaign group for what he says are 'exaggerations' in their fight against a possible Harrogate relief road.

Coun Don Mackenzie, North Yorkshire County Council’s executive member for highways and passenger transport, said he welcomed the distribution of 48,000 leaflets carried out over the last two weeks by new campaign group HALT (Harrogate and Knaresborough Alliance for Less Traffic).

But he accused the campaigners of exaggerating the negative aspects of a potential Bilton to Forest Lane Head road near Nidd Gorge, which is one option among a wide range of anti-traffic idea the county council is considering in two 'packages' of possible measures.

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Coun Don Mackenzie said: “I welcome the fact that there has been a widespread delivery of leaflets by a group calling themselves HALT. This is likely to prompt additional responses.

"On the other hand, such leaflets should be based on facts and not conjecture or exaggeration.

"For example, a proposed inner relief road, if that option is pursued, would not cost £150m as the leaflet states.

"That figure is an approximation of the goal of all costs of Package E, including all sustainable transport measures. The likely cost of a potential relief road is about £65m.

The leaflet by HALT, a new alliance of Harrogate residents groups, was financed by a successful Crowdfunding campaign.

While supporting a "holistic approach" to cutting traffic congestion with an emphasis on sustainable 'green' measures to reduce air pollution, HALT is completely opposed to a new relief road near Nidd Gorge.

The HALT leaflet says: "The public consultation is really a smokescreen for the county council's main aim, which is to get residents to answer yes to one question: "do you want a new road? Through traffic makes up just 7% of the traffic on Harrogate district roads, the other 93% is totally local.

"Such a road would actually make congestion much worse. it would make our roads far, far busier by attracting huge volumes of extra traffic.

"Its main aim is to turn our district into a new east-west route to relieve the M62.

"Building a new road between Harrogate and Knaresborough would open up something developers have wanted for a long time - an access road to the green belt."

But Coun Mackenzie said HALT's fears were exaggerated and denied the M62 was not in the county council's thinking.

Coun Mackenzie said: "A relief road option is not intended as an alternative to the M62 as the leaflet suggests.

"Any relief road would be a single carriageway road, like the current Southern Bypass, with off road facilities for cycling and walking, with the prime purpose of reducing traffic volumes on the existing local highways network.

"As confirmed previously, NYCC and I, as an executive member, remain uncommitted on the way forward as we seek to combat congestion.

"We will be guided by the findings of the engagement. I am anxious to ensure that our residents are provided with the facts and with viable options, accurately and without exaggeration."

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