Dear Reader: Relief road not the answer + darkness on the edge of town

Harrogate relief road controversy - Members of the public at last years meeting on Harrogate traffic congestion at the Cairn Hotel. (Picture by Mike Whorley)
Harrogate relief road controversy - Members of the public at last years meeting on Harrogate traffic congestion at the Cairn Hotel. (Picture by Mike Whorley)

A personal column by the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers

From Arkendale near Knaresborough to Arthur’s Avenue in Harrogate, if there’s one topic I hear most grumbles about on my duties at this newspaper it’s traffic congestion.

As someone who cursed the utility companies under my breath on Monday morning on my daily commute because of the roadworks blocking the entrances to Willaston Road and Roseville Avenue, boosting my drive-time to 30 minutes for a four-mile journey, I ought to be welcoming the Harrogate Congestion Study.

The big battle – again – takes place today when Harrogate and Knaresborough councillors get the chance to voice their opinions on two options – one built on sustainable transport measures, the other adding a new relief road to the mix.

Whatever happens – and these elected local politicians’ views are only advisory, not mandatory on the executive of North Yorkshire County Council in Northallerton, it seems, on the basis of past form, that no matter how the meeting plays out a relief road option is likely to go forward to the next stage in the process.

To be frank, that is something that this particular commuter is far from happy about - even though I am frustrated by clogged-ups roads.

I say this not simply because a new road would probably destroy the last wilderness in Harrogate, ruin the gorgeous Nidd Gorge and bring unwelcome development to Bilton residents.
It’s not even that the last expensive report commissioned last year by North Yorkshire County Council concluded that a new road would not significantly improve traffic congestion in Harrogate because most of the cars causing the problem weren’t trying to get past the town centre, they wanted to be there.

No, it’s far simpler than that.
I don’t need a 243-page report to tell me that during half-term when schools are closed traffic congestion in Harrogate simply evaporates.

Despite fantastic treatment at Harrogate Hospital, I’m still not back on top form after the last of my two hip operations.

Mind you, that was less than nine months ago.

Still, I’ve taken up running again to get fit and put life back into those new hips.
Asides from setting off alarms when I walk through security now, I’m very happy with my ceramic replacements.

And it’s good to run again. You see a lot of things on foot you don’t see in a car.
For example, the big fence round the burnt-out site of the former McColls in Starbeck which is currently forcing pedestrians of all ages onto the road, blocking off the main pelican crossing and the entrance to St Andrew’s Church’s welcome centre.

But if I notice more things while running, people don’t necessarily notice me as I huff and puff round and round the football pitch on Belmont Field at night after work.

A hi-vis vest would certainly stop dog walkers getting a shock as I emerge from the darkness like a ghost.

What Harrogate's MP thinks about a new Harrogate relief road:

EXCLUSIVE: Harrogate MP says he is completely opposed to Nidd Gorge relief road