The possibility of the council changing the Stray Act has understandably taken up many column inches and encouraged many letters in this newspaper.
The Stray is valued so highly because of its openness and its basic purpose, which is for personal enjoyment.
The Civic Society has thought carefully about its future and I personally was not keen to rush into a response to the public consultation.
The Civic Society has unanimously come to the conclusion in committee that we do not wish to see any changes to the Stray Act.
To extend the five weeks usage by not including setting up and clearing up time adds an unknown number of days. It is quite possible that days of usage could easily be doubled.
This would of course mean more damage to the Stray leading to more time for recovery. This would apply even if users of the Stray were obliged to pay for clearing up, cleaning up and repair.
To extend the area to 20 hectares, although only a quarter of the total Stray area of 80 hectares, would, in practice, be a massive incursion onto the Stray.
Considerable areas of the Stray consist of grass verges, for instance those extending a long way down Wetherby Road, Hookstone Drive and Oatlands Drive. Areas down Montpellier Hill, the Crown roundabout and even Swan Road are Stray land. The Stray becomes narrower along Skipton Road where it reaches as far as the fire station.
These areas, plus the restrictions of roads and trees, mean that a high percentage of the free areas would be taken for events, to the detriment of the essential openness of the Stray and free access to it.
The Stray should not be treated as a space that needs to have something happening on it.
Harrogate Civic Society