Harrogate transport boss 'confident' over funding for park and ride trial and more electric buses

The transport boss for Harrogate says he is "confident" that the town will still be able to trial a park and ride service and get dozens more electric buses despite government funding cuts.

By Jacob Webster
Saturday, 19th March 2022, 7:51 am
Updated Saturday, 19th March 2022, 7:52 am
Councillor Don Mackenzie, executive member for access at North Yorkshire County Council.
Councillor Don Mackenzie, executive member for access at North Yorkshire County Council.

Councillor Don Mackenzie, executive member for access at North Yorkshire County Council, told a meeting yesterday that it was unlikely the county would get "anything near" the £116million it bid for as part of the government's Bus Back Better scheme.

But he added he still believed enough cash would come forward to pilot a park and ride service which has long been discussed as a potential solution to Harrogate's congestion woes.

Councillor Mackenzie said: "Even if we get reduced funding - which is likely - I'm confident there will be money for the various interventions we want to make in Harrogate, including a pilot for a park and ride."

Sign up to our daily Harrogate Advertiser Today newsletter

More than 100 locations have been considered for a park and ride service, with land near Pannal Golf Club and the Buttersyke Bar roundabout south of Pannal emerging as the two most promising sites.

It has previously been suggested that the service would form part of the 36 bus route which connects Harrogate with Leeds.

But detailed plans have yet to materialise and there are questions over funding as the construction costs are likely to exceed £10million if a pilot scheme proves to be a success.

These uncertainties come as the government recently wrote to councils to highlight how funding for its £3billion Bus Back Better initiative has more than halved to £1.4billion.

County council officials have said this could mean North Yorkshire is left with little or no funding for its Bus Service Improvement Plan.

But they also insisted Harrogate - which has the worst traffic congestion in the county - would still be made a priority for measures including the park and ride scheme, more bus lanes and better information on journeys.

Speaking at yesterday's meeting of the Harrogate and Knaresborough Area Constituency Committee, councillor Mackenzie also expressed confidence over a separate bid for government cash to make all of Harrogate Bus Company's fleet electric.

If successful, the county council would get £8million while Harrogate Bus Company would contribute £11.5million towards the costs of buying 39 zero-emission buses.

Councillor Mackenzie said: "We have already published our Bus Service Improvement Plan which is valued at £116million worth of investments in bus travel over the next eight years.

"It is unlikely that we are going to get anything near that amount.

"But I do remain confident about the separate bid that the county council made to the government's Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas scheme.

"That would convert the whole fleet of Harrogate Bus Company to electric traction, including the flagship 36 service from Ripon to Harrogate and onto Leeds.

"We ought to hear something about this award by the end of this month."

By Jacob Webster, Local Democracy Reporter