Fury at 'atrocious' damage to the Stray during UCI cycling events in Harrogate

The leading guardians of the Stray in Harrogate say they are appalled by the "atrocious" damage caused to it by flooding in the Fan Zone during the UCI cycling championships.

By Graham Chalmers
Thursday, 31st October 2019, 11:15 am

And they say it may take a "very long time" to fully restore the town's much-loved park land in the town centre after the heavy rainfall.

So bad was the weather - and its impact on the Fan Zone created on the Stray at West Park for cycling fans - that organisers closed the zone yesterday and cancelled a headlining performance by hit pop band The Feeling at the last moment.

It was the second time the Fan Zone with its big wheel and food and drinks vans had been closed because of rain during the nine-day international cycling tournament which ended yesterday, Sunday.

UCI cycling - businesses battle to stay positive in troubled weekThe sight of the green grass of the Stray turned into a patchwork quilt of giant puddles and deep mud has proven too much for the Stray Defence Association, which was first formed in 1933 to safeguard Harrogate's Stray against building and encroachment from all quarters and uphold the Act granting freedom of the Stray to all people for all time.

The SDA's chairman Judy d'Arcy Thompson said not enough protection had ben given by the organisers of the cycling event about the effect of the Fan Zone on the state of the Stray.

And she said it would now take a "long time" to get the Stray back to how it should look.

The SDA chairman said: "No one looking at it could doubt the atrocious damage suffered by Harrogate’s Stray during the past weeks, particularly West Park Stray. Damage which is so appalling it is hard to quantify.

"It is our view that, despite the assurances we sought, and were given, from every public body that any damage would be minimized, far too little appropriate and adequate protection was provided for the Stray.

"Long after such events leave town it is our Stray which remains, a constant and unique asset promoting Harrogate as a beautiful place to visit.

"What sort of feasibility study was done to ascertain potential destruction over such a lengthy period of appropriation?

"The Stray Defence Association has been contacted by many local people who, like ourselves, are deeply distressed by what has occurred.

"We fear that the full restoration of Harrogate’s wonderful Stray will take a very long time."

The SDA also said, under the terms of the temporary suspension of the Parliamentary Stray Act sought by Harrogate Borough Council, they, North Yorkshire County Council and UCI now had until 10pm this Friday, October 4 to remove everything from the Fan Zone and "restore the Stray to the people of Harrogate."