Readers' Letter: Are we being hoodwinked?

A letter sent in by Mark Woolley regarding the Gateway Project

By Zoe Drye
Friday, 11th February 2022, 12:00 pm
Station Parade, Harrogate
Picture Gerard Binks
Station Parade, Harrogate Picture Gerard Binks

As an occasional but regular visitor to my home town, I always enjoy purchasing a copy of your newspaper to find out what has been happening here.

When I did this a fortnight ago, I was not at all surprised to find that many pages were still devoted to the subject of the Gateway project (I still don’t actually know why it is so entitled). One fact did intrigue me though. On page nine of the January 27 edition Coun MacKenzie is quoted as saying, “A total of 15,500 residents decided to respond to that consultation and gave a very clear message to us.”

Now, I don’t know what the present population of the town is, but, years ago, it was 60,000. I doubt it has decreased since, but let us, for the sake of argument, take that figure.

Sign up to our daily Harrogate Advertiser Today newsletter

This means that a maximum of about 25 per cent of the population (the councillor does not say what the number of supporting votes was) voted for the project - hardly a ringing endorsement. I know that such a survey would not be the main, even a substantial, basis for the decision, but then it does make one wonder what the purpose of it was if, at the most, it only revealed apathy.

Once again, having read through your pages, I was left with the feeling that I still don’t understand the rationale for the scheme. More to the point, I feel that the council are trying to hoodwink us about it’s true purpose.

On a more general point, and allowing for what I have said above, in any circumstances where there is going to be a referendum, consultation, call it what you will, then the result should only be valid if a comparatively high threshold is reached, either in the turn out or the margin of victory. This at least would have prevented all the, what I can only call, unpleasantness shown by some of the remainers after Brexit.

You could argue that that would have perverted the terms of the referendum that David Cameron was so arrogant and foolish to impose, and you would be correct to do so. However, I don’t think you will find many people who voted to leave who expected that to be the result. Additionally, it would have made it clear to the government and their supporters with their feelings of entitlement that something had to be done about our relationship with the EU.

Mark Woolley