Letter: Town strategy - Base criticism only on the facts

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

Mr Lilley and Mr Mason have made comments (Letters, December 10) about the Harrogate Town Centre Strategy and Masterplan (HTCSM) and I write in response.

Alarmingly Mr Lilley has suggested that Cabinet members can work conspiratorially to hide large budget projects from public scrutiny whilst secretly implementing them in stages. This is a nonsense, probably illegal and not a practice my colleagues and I would even consider.

There have already been two public consultations on the draft HTCSM and the responses to the latest of those are being analysed.

Mr Lilley claims the council received a low response to the latest consultation but I might remind him that he can only see those responses we received in writing - not responses made by any other method. An analysis of the responses will be brought to me in early 2016.

Mr Lilley is wrong again in his claim that there will be no further consultation. The masterplan contains a number of projects which are no more than early stage ideas and it is not yet confirmed which of these will remain in the final document.

For each of the projects which do remain, there will be further consultation once detailed proposals have been drawn up so members of the public can have their say on the specific project before implementation.

Mr Mason suggests that we should consider rejecting all proposals for potential improvements to our town centre.

Our town centre is unique, charming and successful but that doesn’t mean it isn’t facing challenges. The council has to consider those challenges and work with town centre businesses, residents and visitors to develop a strategy for addressing them.

If we didn’t I imagine I’d be responding to letters accusing the council of burying its head in the sand.

Many of the comments received about this piece of work have been constructive and I welcome further engagement as it progresses.

However I do politely ask that correspondents base their letters on facts rather than their own speculation of my authority, motivation and future actions.

Coun Rebecca Burnett

Cabinet member for planning and sustainable transport, Harrogate Borough Council