Harrogate's Lord - Why I oppose new road near Nidd Gorge
The only peer in the House of Lords to be named after Harrogate has revealed his views on the idea of a new 'relief road' near the Nidd Gorge.
Lord Kirkhope of Harrogate, who entered the House of Lords in 2016 after a lifetime of political service at a high level, said the benefits on congestion had not been proven enough to justify the impact on the Nidderdale Greenway and the countryside of a new road from Bilton to Forest Lane.
Of course, former Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Phil Willis is also a peer - but he became Baron Willis of Knaresborough on entering the House of Lords.
Talking to the Harrogate Advertiser about traffic congestion ideas, Lord Kirkhope of Harrogate said: "When the cycleway and path from Asda in Harrogate to Ripley was constructed I congratulated all those involved, including Councillor Don McKenzie . "It was a substantial achievement both environmentally and for the overall benefit of residents and others to enjoy the countryside and the fresh air so near to town. "Cyclists, walkers, and family outings have all benefited from it. I was, therefore ,most concerned to hear that these facilities as well as the overall countryside was to be threatened by a large road proposal."
Lord Kirkhope, a resident of Scotton, was nominated for a peerage in former Prime Minister David Cameron's resignation honours list having served as a Government Whip and Immigration Minister until l997 and a Tory MEP after that.
Despite sympathising with North Yorkshire County Council's efforts to look at ideas for tackling traffic congestion in its current online public consultation, Lord Kirkhope said the new route was unlikely to solve the problem.
He believes road systems need to be designed better and points to North Yorkshire County Council's success at Bond End as a possible model for the future.
Lord Kirkhope said: "I fully understand the difficulties of Coun McKenzie and others in coming up with proposals to alleviate the acknowledged problems of traffic in and around Harrogate and balancing them against the need to protect the environment but I do not think that the route proposed is desirable and I have said so in the public consultation process. "I admit that I use the present cycleway myself and get benefit from it but so do large numbers of others. "There have been some recent successes in improving road conditions including at Bond End Knaresborough where, with little changes to configuration what was a really painful junction has now been sorted eliminating the pollution problems for residents as well as the traffic hold ups. "I wonder whether enough thinking has taken place through and on the approaches to Harrogate to re design turning points and junctions and the sequence of traffic lights etc before pursuing a massive scheme that is so controversial?"
The former solicitor was first elected to the European Parliament for Yorkshire and the Humber in 1999 and held the posts of Conservative leader and the group’s spokesman for Justice Affairs.