Reader Letter: Congestion must be put back on agenda

A letter written by Neil Trickey from Harrogate

By Zoe Drye
Thursday, 20th January 2022, 1:30 pm
An example of traffic congestion on Skipton Road in Harrogate.
An example of traffic congestion on Skipton Road in Harrogate.

Now that the Gateway is decided and we contemplate the consequences of the additional congestion that it will cause (during construction and beyond) it is time to question our councils (NYCC and HBC) on whether they intend to do anything about Harrogate congestion.

Currently there are multiple housing developments to the west and north of Harrogate (arc from Beckwithshaw to Killinghall) whose occupants need to traverse the town (jobs in Leeds, secondary schools to the south).

Coun Mackenzie’s notion that most of these people will walk, cycle and/or use public transport is inane.

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Even those wishing to commute by rail need to get to Station Parade and with no buses to Beckwithshaw, Penny Pot Lane or the southwest of Killinghall, it comes as no surprise that commuters (work and school attendees) will choose to use private vehicles.

The WHPP is about to add another 2000 dwellings to the west (details to be set by the council before residents get to see/comment) without there being any coordinated infrastructure plan.

In 2019, Harrogate residents were offered a Relief Road between the A61 north of Ripley and the A658 south of Knaresborough through the Nidd Gorge and Nidderdale Greenway.

Unsurprisingly, residents rejected it for the reasons that it did nothing to ease Harrogate congestion and it spoilt an area of outstanding natural beauty.

In yet another bout of arrogant spin, Coun Mackenzie wrote in the Harrogate Advertiser that residents did not want to spend money on a Relief Road for Harrogate.

We are now told that the stand-alone Killinghall Bypass is considered to be both worthwhile and value for money.

With every sympathy for Killinghall residents who would at least initially welcome less traffic through their village, we have to question what the real outcome will be.

Southbound traffic from Ripon will whiz pass Killinghall and emerge onto the A61 near to it’s junction with Grainbeck Lane before grinding to a snails pace at the New Park roundabout.

There are then three options – Skipton Road to the Empress roundabout (already the most congested highway in the district), Ripon Road to Cheltenham Crescent and the soon-to-be single lane Station Parade, or Skipton Road west to Oaker Bank. Those doing the latter will soon discover that the much quicker route is through Killinghall and onto the B6161 Otley Road.

Whatever the outcome, there will then be a Killinghall Bypass that crosses the B6165 Ripley Road at the starting point for the currently deferred Relief Road. Is this a ploy for it to be resurrected?

I am sure that I am not alone in thinking that NYCC and HBC are not interested in the Harrogate congestion issue which can now only be addressed by a Western Bypass that connects the A59/B6161 junction with the A61/A658 junction south of Pannal.

In January 2021 the Harrogate Transport Improvement Programme discounted this route because it was “poor value for money due to its high cost of construction”.

Despite pleading poverty and significant deficits on budgets, there are plentiful funds for the Killinghall Bypass, a £47m refurbishment of the Harrogate Convention Centre and a multi-million redevelopment of the Hydro among other expensive projects that are obviously much more important than the Harrogate traffic situation. How can we get Harrogate congestion onto the agenda?

Neil Trickey