County council hits back over 'low traffic' initiative in Harrogate saying there is 'no intention to ban cars from town centre'
North Yorkshire's leading councillor on transport matters has responded to criticism of new moves to reduce car use in Harrogate.
The comments from Coun Don Mackenzie, executive member for access and transport for North Yorkshire County Council, followed an angry reaction in some quarters to last week's announcement by North Yorkshire County Council that its highways team is to impose experimental traffic restrictions on Beech Grove and Lancaster Road.
Under the new rules, non-residential through traffic would be prevented from entering these roads to create quieter streets where residents feel safer when walking and cycling.
The news was criticised by both the chief executive of Harrogate District Chamber of Commerce and business pressure group Independent Harrogate.
But Coun Don Mackenzie, executive member for access and transport for North Yorkshire County Council, said the new measures were "modest and reasonable."
Coun Mackenzie said: "North Yorkshire County Council has been given a strong mandate to boost sustainable travel in Harrogate following the Harrogate Congestion Study public engagement in 2019, which attracted over 15,500 responses.
"Of these, around 80% gave their strong support for better facilities for cycling and walking.
"The measures which we are planning to introduce are modest and reasonable."
Coun Mackenzie continued: "The claim that the County Council is seeking to ban the motor car from the town centre is simply untrue.
"It is not planned to lose any parking spaces on Beech Grove.
"In any event, the supply of on-street P&D parking spaces in the town centre and free disc parking within a short walk of the town centre far exceeds demand even in non-Covid times.
"Similarly, there are more than enough off-street parking bays in multi-storey and surface level car parks.
He added: "I recognise that not everyone will switch from their car to a bike or to their feet but some of our residents will do so if we can provide better, safer facilities - and that will be helpful in reducing town centre congestion.
"But I simply do not understand the suggestion that improving active travel provision in Harrogate is bad for business."
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