Letter: Town centre plan - It’s all rather vague...?

Harrogate Borough Council's Local Plan
Harrogate Borough Council's Local Plan

I welcome Coun Rebecca Burnett’s belated acknowledgement of a ‘mixed’ public reaction to Harrogate Borough Council’s plans to pedestrianise large parts of the town centre (Advertiser, January 14). Even so, it still seems to fair to ask: what took her so long?

Anyone engaging in even the most cursory examination of the 300 or so comments left by residents and businesses could have reached the same assessment within hours of the public consultation closing on October 16, 2015. And yet according to Coun Burnett, the public’s comments are still being analysed. This, of course, includes some verbal comments given to council officers at a series of events around Harrogate which have never been uploaded on to the council’s website. It does seem strange to undertake a public consultation, but then not allow the public to view all the comments that were made.

It’s also disappointing that having now acknowledged that residents and businesses had very differing views about the draft Town Centre Strategy and Masterplan that Coun Burnett hasn’t seized this opportunity to be rather more forthcoming.

She reveals that a “working group” of unnamed people (but presumably council officials?) will come back to her over the next couple of months with suggestions as to which schemes might go ahead later this year. But it’s all rather vague.

I surely can’t be alone in thinking that what people really want to know now is whether the general principle of pedestrianising much of the town centre is still going ahead?

Also, in what ways (if any) has the public’s mixed response influenced the council’s intentions? Will some schemes now be modified - or even dropped altogether? If so, which ones?

Surely this is information we, as citizens, have a right to know, particularly one would have thought from a council which has the mission statement “Working For You” emblazoned across its letterhead.

We really need to start seeing a lot more evidence of that, rather than continually being given the impression that we don’t deserve to be given straight answers; or that we should somehow feel grateful for being fed the occasional snippet of not particularly useful information.

Peter Lilley

Valley Drive, Harrogate