This is latest news on progress at devastated Stray in Harrogate

Clean-up work at the devastated Stray in Harrogate has been hit by a delay in the handing back of the West Park site after the UCI cycling championships.

By Graham Chalmers
Friday, 18th October 2019, 5:42 pm
Clean-up work at the devastated Stray in Harrogate has been hit by a delay in the handing back of the West Park site after the UCI cycling championships.
Clean-up work at the devastated Stray in Harrogate has been hit by a delay in the handing back of the West Park site after the UCI cycling championships.

Despite the wet weather, Harrogate Borough Council says they will prioritise restoring footpaths to allow more access to the public and remove some of the fencing on the West Park side.

The hope this will only take a matter of days with better weather but the water-logged conditions mean that much of the flagstone paths have sunk.

While residents complain not only about the damage to the grass but the stench coming from the mud, Harrogate Borough Council says it is still waiting for organisers Yorkshire 2019 to finish clearing the site of the event’s Fan Zone.

A council spokesperson said the same wet weather that had contributed to the ruin of parts of the Stray at West Park was now slowing down recovery work on the mud-caked location.

The spokesperson said: “Areas of verges have already been repaired where needed and flower beds planted but the main area of West Park Stray is yet to be handed back from the organisers who are still clearing the site.”

Yorkshire 2019, who were in charge of delivering the major international cycling event hosted by Harrogate for nine days in late September, are working to level off all the muddy holes and ruts created by heavy vehicles in the Fan Zone first.

A spokesperson said it had wanted to ensure the site was in “a safe and suitable condition” to be handed back to the council.

The spokesperson said: “The reparation work is being undertaken in regular consultation with the council, whose officers have been present on site since 9th September and worked with us every step of the way to ensure any impact to the Stray was minimised.“It is unfortunate public access to the Stray has been restricted during this period, but if we had accelerated its return to HBC, there was a high likelihood of longer-term damage.”

Harrogate Borough Council is keen to return the Stray at West Park to its previous carpet of grass but cannot work anyway until the ground dries out.

It is likely both re-seeding and new turf will be required to fully restore the Stray.

Stray Defence Association, the charity dedicated to the protection of the Stray, has been receiving complaints about the condition of the site and the inaccessibility of the area to pedestrians.

Its chair Judy d’Arcy-Thompson said: “We continue to get complaints, particularly about the overwhelming stench now pervading West Park.“There are also public concerns about the fencing off of the footpath from the Prince of Wales roundabout along West Park which means that anyone trying to walk from Otley Road into West Park has nowhere to go but onto the road.”

The SDA has been in talks with Harrogate Borough Council’s environmental health officer and representatives of Yorkshire Water about these lingering side-effects of the Stray playing host to the Fan Zone during the worst September for rainfall since the mid-1970s.

It had been hoped West Park would be ready for handing over to Harrogate Borough Council by now but the bad weather means speedy removal of the Fan Zone’s infrastructure would actually cause more damage to the Stray.

Yorkshire 2019 said: “Since the culmination of the Championships our contractors have been working daily to clear the West Park area of The Stray and undertake remedial works to ensure it is in a safe and suitable condition to be handed back to Harrogate Borough Council.“This process has taken longer than expected due to a sustained period of excessively wet weather.”

It is understood the handover is still set to take place in a matter of days, not weeks.

Harrogate Borough Council says, once that happens, there will have to be an extensive programme of works to return the site to normal.

But some residents fear the Stray at West Park may not recover fully until next April or May.

A spokesperson for Harrogate Borough Council also confirmed talks were still ongoing between the council, organisers Yorkshire 2019 and the insurers over the question of Yorkshire 2019’s insurers paying some of the cost of restoring The Stray after the damage caused by the Fan Zone during the UCIs.