In response to the letter by Peter Jesper in last week’s Harrogate Advertiser
I was confused by a letter from the Chamber of Trade implying the council had kept people ‘in the dark’ about the consultation on the draft Harrogate Town Centre Strategy and Masterplan.
I had already agreed to meet the Chamber’s Town Centre Focus Group and also agreed to join their pre-meeting networking session for all their members. This is in addition to a stakeholder meeting they had already attended. You can imagine therefore my surprise at the letter.
The council has taken every opportunity to raise awareness of the consultation. Press releases, interviews with local media, social media and public exhibitions at the Harrogate Farmers’ Market and St Peter’s Church have all been used.
Letters have been sent to almost one and a half thousand residents and businesses in the town centre. A further thousand letters and e-mails were sent to people who have signed up for notifications of consultations from the Council’s Planning Policy team. And an email reminder of the close of the consultation was sent to several thousand people.
The consultation document and supporting information has been available online since the start of the consultation on September 4, with hard copies placed in all the districts libraries, and at the council’s Crescent Gardens offices, Knaresborough House and Ripon Town Hall. A six week consultation period is standard and gives plenty of opportunity to respond.
I welcome every response to the consultation, including those of the Chamber and its members. The purpose of the consultation is to gather these views so our decisions can be informed by them.
It is disappointing that the Chamber has decided to use their influence in this manner rather than to constructively convey the opinions of its members and to generate responses from others in a more positive way.
There is still time for people to send us their comments and I would encourage people to look at the proposals and come to their own view on whether they think they would be good for the town. The consultation ends on Friday, October 16, with further information available at http://consult.harrogate.gov.uk.
Coun Rebecca Burnett
Cabinet Member for Planning and Sustainable Transport, Harrogate Borough Council