New fears over possible Harrogate relief road

Local councillors will get the chance to air their views on the Harrogate Congestion Study's range of options such as green measures and/or a new relief road, possibly through Bilton and Nidd Gorg,e at the county council's Harrogate Area Committee meeting on November 8 at 9.30am at the Cairn Hotel in Harrogate.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 23rd October 2018, 4:45 pm
Updated Wednesday, 24th October 2018, 6:13 am
Protesters at last December's meeting of local county councillors over traffic congestion at the Cairn Hotel in Harrogate.
Protesters at last December's meeting of local county councillors over traffic congestion at the Cairn Hotel in Harrogate.

The public are allowed to attend and a maximum of ten members of the public can speak for three minutes.

For the first time, the subject will also be discussed by the Skipton and Ripon Area Committee on December 13.

Ultimately what will come of the Harrogate Congestion Study will be determined not by counclllors in Harrogate and Knaresborough but by North Yorkshire County Council’s executive.

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The ten-strong NYCC executive committee includes only two Harrogate councillors, both of whom voted to keep relief road options on the table last December.

The NYCC’s executive itself devolved powers and are set to make the ultimate decision on the options and whether there will be a public consultation in early 2019.Anyone seeking to speak should email [email protected]

What people hope will result from Harrogate Congestion Study

Coun Don Mackenzie, North Yorkshire County Council’s executive member for highways and passenger transport said: “Addressing the problems of congestion and poor air quality is very important for every resident and business in the Harrogate area. The county council is doing that.“The views of the members of both ACCs will be included in a subsequent report to the NYCC executive early in 2019 to determine the way forward.”

Paul Haslam, a councillor on both Harrogate Borough Council and North Yorskhire County Council, said:

"Congestion is a serious, complex problem that needs to be tackled, not just from an economic point of view but in relation to health.

He said: "The first report submitted last year recommended two courses of action – a set of demand management and behavioural change and four options on a relief road. "The relief road option was rejected by the area committee, now renamed the area constituency committee. I was requested that they work up alternatives based on option B.

"This was overridden by the officer and he insisted that the road option must also be explored. This was very disappointing as the argument supporting the road was weak and, in fact, suggested that it would make little difference to the congestion in Harrogate.

"There were also many compelling arguments why the unique and special area around the Nidd Gorge should be protected.

"I hope the report will return meaningful analysis of the options with credible, evidence led proposals that will make a difference to the congestion in the district."It should also link up with HBC’s thinking. The local plan which goes through until 2035 does not require a new road.

"The report needs to consider the future of transport and in particular car ownership. A car spends over 90% of its life parked. "Carsharing is an obvious development in the so called gig economy. Car technology will also drive change, autonomous vehicles etc and I believe car ownership costs will rise significantly which will also reduce car ownership.

"I would like to see an evidence based, logical well thought out set of proposals put forward"I expect, however, that NYCC officers and their advisors WSP will push for building a road."

Malcolm Margolis, co-founder of Harrogate’s Wheel Easy! cycling group, said:

“I expect, or hope, that the decision makers in this process will have accepted that a relief road wouldn’t help reduce local congestion. That’s because nearly all the traffic starts and/or finishes in town.“A new road would cost up to £200m, devastate part of Nidd Gorge and the Nidderdale Greenway and cause massive congestion and pollution in Bilton Lane."I’d like to get - actually what this week’s IPCC report by dozens of leading scientists makes clear is what we need - is not another road to create space for more traffic but an intelligent package of measures to reduce it. "There are 24 of these identified by the County’s consultants including better public transport, park and ride, speed limits and various ways to encourage more walking and cycling."

Chris Kitson of Nidd Gorge Community Action said:

"It is my educated guess that they will, ‘in the interests of local democracy’, include the road – which would wreck parts of Nidd Gorge and the Nidderdale Greenway, and hugely increase traffic and pollution on Bilton Lane – in the public consultation due to take place from February to April 2019."Our towns and people are choking on traffic pollution and more roads will increase the traffic levels, not provide ‘relief’. It doesn’t have to be like this."What I'd like to see is a visionary 21st century solution that will reduce traffic and pollution, make our town a leader in green, progresssive transport solutions and protect Nidd Gorge for future generations and wildlife.

Allan Smyth of Nidd Gorge Community Action said:"I expect that the smoke screen of transparency in the process will prove that NYCC has no intention of listening to the people this will effect and that they will obscurificate any way they can to enable the road and subsequent development to go ahead, if they can secure government funding. "I would like to see the end of the relief road project and a massive overhaul of Harrogate's traffic management, particularly with regard to sustainable transport, and an emphasis on improving the Town for residents and tourists alike."This has been achieved as it has in other towns and cities across the world."This will require NYCC to accept the changes and challenges in transport planning where personal transportation moves away from the car and towards high quality sustainable public transport and other alternatives such as cycling, car share, park and ride and BEVs Instead of combustion engines."

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