The Transport Talk column with Don Mackenzie

The exhibition of Congestion Study material at Pannal.
The exhibition of Congestion Study material at Pannal.

At last week’s Annual General Meeting of North Yorkshire County Council I was pleased to nominate fellow Harrogate-based county councillor Jim Clark to be chairman for the forthcoming year. I believe that Jim, county councillor for Harlow, will be an excellent successor to Robert Windass.

Tour de Yorkshire

More than half the race distances in this year’s four-day event took place on North Yorkshire’s roads. Day Two of the tour featured an 82-mile route from Barnsley to Bedale, taking in Harrogate and the town circuit via Otley Road, Pot Bank, Penny Pot Lane and the Duchy estate. This same circuit will be in use for the UCI World Championships which Harrogate will host from 21 to 29 September.

Vehicle Activated Signs

Parish councils are now permitted to purchase VAS equipment to be temporarily installed in suitable locations on the public highway through their villages. The change in the county council’s policy was introduced at the beginning of last month.

NYCC already installs these flashing signs, reminding speeding drivers of the local speed limit, in locations where there is evidence of excessive speed leading to, or likely to cause, accidents. There are areas where there is insufficient evidence to warrant their installation, but where parish councils nevertheless wish to use their own funds to purchase equipment, which they are now free to do.

Readers’ letters

I take this opportunity to respond to questions raised in recent letters sent to this newspaper. One writer asked why a contractor dug a trench across Blenheim Way shortly after NYCC had “resurfaced” the road. In fact, the road had been “surface dressed” which is a very quick, economical and effective means of sealing a road surface and lending it a uniform appearance. Tens of miles of roads are being treated in this way throughout the district at the moment and NYCC cannot justify an embargo on work by utilities on surface-dressed roads over such a vast area. Remedial work is, in any event, quick and easy. It is quite another matter with resurfacing which is very expensive and would be re-scheduled if it coincided with utility excavations.

A second writer questioned the removal of a traffic island on Otley Road near the Prince of Wales Roundabout. This was removed immediately prior to the Tour de Yorkshire which was using Otley Road for the first time. Whilst other such refuges on earlier race routes have all been replaced by bolt-down, removable structures, this one was concreted in. A replacement will be bolted in place within a few days.

Harrogate Congestion Study – public engagement underway

At the time this column is submitted for publication, three out of seven public engagement exhibitions have taken place, at which residents are given the opportunity to study consultation material and to ask questions of highways officers. The first in Harrogate was attended by over 350 persons. 200 came to the second event in Knaresborough, and over 100 attended the third exhibition in Pannal.

These exhibitions were arranged in order to give those residents without internet access, or who prefer face to face meetings to engagement online, an opportunity to meet officers, to ask questions and to fill in responses using paper questionnaires provided. NYCC consultants, WSP, also arranged for a local charitable organisation to be present and to provide special skills in making visitors who needed extra support welcome and to assist them in getting the most from their visit.

There has already been a large response to the online survey. In just over four weeks more than 7,000 responses have been received. The engagement ends on 8 July.

100.000th connection to SFNY broadband

A significant milestone in the County Council’s Superfast North Yorkshire project was attained last month: the 100,000th subscriber was connected up to SFNY-enabled superfast broadband provision. This brought total take-up from Phases One and Two to over 60%, the highest of any rural authority in the country. Phase Three is currently underway and will connect up 14,239 domestic and business properties, most using Fibre to the Premise technology giving download speeds of up to 330Mbps.