Why I didn't attend Nidd Gorge 'relief road' protest walk - top councillor

The man most associated with North Yorkshire County Council’s efforts to address traffic congestion has hit back after being criticised for not taking part in Andrew Jones MP's recent ‘sustainable transport walk’ along the Nidderdale Greenway to highlight the campaign against a new ‘relief road’ in the Bilton and Nidd Gorge area.

Monday, 3rd June 2019, 5:16 pm
Three generations of campaigners against a Nidd Gorge relief road - From left Adele Laurie, Aysha Laurie aged 11 with Poppy the dog and Brenda Laurie at Andrew Jones MP's walk. (Picture: Gerard Binks)

But Coun Don Mackenzie, the county council’s executive member for highways and passenger transport, said his job during the the current public consultation on possible traffic solutions was to listen to all sides, not to side with one side focused on a single issue.

Coun Mackenzie said: “There have been questions on social media why I did not attend myself.

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"Hearing as many different views as possible" - Coun Don Mackenzie, pictured on the left, the county councils executive member for highways and passenger transport.

He said: “As one of the two elected members (alongside Michael Harrison) who guided the proposal for the Bilton to Ripley Cycle Path (as it was originally called) through to its construction, I am already fully aware of the importance of this facility, and how popular the Nidderdale Greenway is, especially for the recreational enjoyment of walkers, cyclists and riders.

“We are currently in the middle of a series of well-attended engagement exhibitions at which I have been present and I have had many opportunities to listen to the views of members of the public.

“Taking part in a leisurely walk on a May bank holiday weekend is no doubt one way of putting one’s views across.

“My priority, however, is to hear all the differing views of as many people in Harrogate and Knaresborough as possible so that NYCC may determine how to ensure that our residents and visitors can travel into, out of and around our area as freely and easily as possible as they go about their daily lives in the face of the rapid expansion in housing that is currently taking place in our towns.

“We have had 8,000 responses to our Public Engagement in the first six weeks.

“Our exhibitions so far in Harrogate, Knaresborough and Pannal have been extremely well attended, and we look forward to receiving many more views between now and July 8 when the survey ends.”