As we near the end of the ‘consultation period’ about the future of Harrogate’s Stray I really do feel it is about time that people knew precisely what the Harrogate Council are proposing. Regrettably I do not feel that this has been made clear.
Detailed information on proposed legislative changes to the Stray Act were, in fact, provided to the HBC Cabinet on October 19, 2016 and the council’s plans/proposals are very clearly set out in this document, a copy of which I have in front of me.
As a result of The Stray Defence Association and other concerned residents of Harrogate circulating this alarming information it appears that our council are now, possibly, slightly re-thinking their application to alter the present Parliamentary Act protecting the Stray.
Evidently this is because they ‘have been persuaded that this was too much.’ From which we can assume that HBC have already been given the benefit of hindsight because they, unlike the rest of us, have access to their own ongoing consultation.
Whilst they may be considering tempering certain of their desired permanent amendments to the Stray Act we should still be deeply worried about other parts of their proposal.
An extension of the type of events permitted, currently restricted to ‘entertainment or charitable purposes’, is also being asked for. This would make it easier to allow the sort of events that HBC might be able to charge considerable sums for, thereby making money from their leasing out of our Stray.
Within the document dated October 19, 2016 HBC also say: “The council would wish any permanent order to contain a provision whereby the Duchy of Lancaster could consent to a temporary suspension of these presumptive rights: or alternatively that the council itself could vote in full council to such a suspension with a right of ‘appeal’ to the Duchy of Lancaster by any person opposing that motion.”
In other words, they want to have the ability to suspend any new Act whenever they choose to if voted for by the council.
Our council say they are mindful of the importance of the Stray.
What might happen were we to become part of a unitary authority with care of the Stray given to Leeds, Goole, Selby or somesuch?
With the present level of Parliamentary protection gone, who would care about our precious Stray then?
Is it any wonder that sensible people are giving great thought to this whole matter?
I would ask everyone who cares about the Stray to, please, think long and hard before they respond to the consultation and not to give their assent to the signing away of our Stray’s future.
Judy d’Arcy Thompson
The Stray Defence