Harrogate's Stray may not recover properly until well into next year

The Stray Defence Association fears restoration work cannot be carried on quickly enough to enable the Stray’s most famous flowers to appear by next spring.

Friday, 1st November 2019, 3:25 pm
Updated Friday, 1st November 2019, 3:30 pm
The scene at Stray at West Park.

Chair Judy dArcy Thompson said: “As the bulbs, both crocus and daffodils, for which our Stray is famous will almost certainly have been decimated, the Stray Defence Association has been trying to turn a negative situation into a positive one.

"We have been in contact with several local charities to organise replanting.

"Everyone is very receptive of the idea and the council is keen, too. But bulbs have to be planted in the autumn and the council has advised us that this may have to be delayed until next September.”

The council may be relieved to have regained full control of the town’s most precious jewel after the handover earlier this week by Yorkshire 2019, organisers of the UCI cycling championships.

But, now that it has, the full picture of the devastation at the still fenced-off site has been brutally exposed.

After receiving a battering from a combination of the wettest weather for decades and playing host to an estimated 100,000 people as the UCI Fan Zone, Harrogate Borough Council told the Harrogate Advertiser it is keen to restore the Stray to its full glory as quickly as possible.

A spokesperson for the council said: “The work has already started. Work on restoring the verges on West Park began almost straight away following the event, and the grass and flowers are now growing well in places.”

But the Stray Defence Association's chair Judy d’Arcy Thompson said the volunteer guardians remained livid at how the whole situation had been handled.

She said: “Yorkshire 2019 may well have handed back our Stray to Harrogate Borough Council but it is yet to be handed back to the people of Harrogate, over a month since the event finished.

“Sadly, it could well be a very long time, indeed, before it is anywhere near useable.”

Harrogate Borough Council has previously said it is working with Yorkshire 2019 in a bid to have the UCI cycling championship’s insurer help cover the costs of restoring The Stray’s West Park.

The nine days of the event saw torrential rain much of the time and this, combined with the UCI Fan Zone, turned a swathe of the famed parkland into a muddy bog, leading to criticism over the treatment of this precious asset.