Dear Reader: Worrying spending priorities + It's not all politicians' fault

Will a new cycle path along Otley Road happen or will this cyclist remain a lone figure for environmentally-friendly travel in Harrogate?
Will a new cycle path along Otley Road happen or will this cyclist remain a lone figure for environmentally-friendly travel in Harrogate?

A personal column by the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers

A reader kindly emailed me the other week complaining about the amount of taxpayers’ money Harrogate Borough Council was committed to spending this year to ensure the district could support the arrival of the UCI Road World Championships later in the year.

I guess he wasn’t much of a fan of cycling.

Although the sum being contributed by Harrogate is a drop in the ocean compared to this huge international sporting event’s multi-million pound budget overall, it’s still a sizable chunk of finance at a time of austerity.

Harrogate told: 'Don't be scared of major cycling event'

I won’t go into the ins-and-outs and costs-and-benefits of the event which would have come to Yorkshire with or without Harrogate’s say-so.

The fact is the world’s greatest cyclists are coming here for nine days in September and the eyes of the world will be on Harrogate which is amazing.

But I wonder, looking back in 50 years time or, whether some future historian will spot patterns we can’t, or don’t want to, recognise.

Already this year, Harrogate council has decided to spend money on creating a digital hub to provide opportunities for fledgling technology companies to grow and network in Harrogate.

And it’s also creating a new commercial housing company owned by itself to build houses, partly to generate extra revenue.

The intentions behind all the above decisions seem to be good but, as council cuts to vital services for the elderly and vulnerable continue to bite across North Yorkshire, it feels like it's all adding up to a big overall change that really does matter.

Whether it's by design or accident or force of circumstances is almost beside the point.

It’s been called “Harrogate’s version of Brexit” and for good reason.

North Yorkshire County Council’s commendable efforts to tackle traffic congestion and promote green transport on one of Harrogate’s busiest roads with new cycle paths and changes at a crucial junction is already running into one road block after another.

So much so, I’m sure I detected a weary tone this week in the correspondence from the man attempting to drive the Otley Road project home.

The clock may be ticking on spending the government grants but, from what councillor Don Mackenzie said, it seems a firm timetable is some ways off.

The fact the plans are beginning to get bogged down is, perhaps, more a reflection of the times we live than the plans themselves.

Much like Brexit itself, everyone involved is looking at the same issue but from radically different angles.

Never has the old adage “you can’t please all the people all the time” seemed more appropriate.

The problem facing the the county council in this particular case is that it’s proving hard to please anyone.

Who’d be a politician?