It would seem that Harrogate Council’s proposal to apply for a change in the law to allow more frequent and larger events on the Stray has, as expected, been somewhat controversial.
Coun Michael Harrison, who appears to be leading on this (Advertiser, November 24), says: “The changes we are minded to request would allow a more varied range of events to be held, including a few on a larger scale, and would only require a modest increase in the number of days when inclosure is permitted”.
The trouble here is that the language is entirely subjective. How many more are a “few more events”? How much larger is “on a larger scale”? What is a “modest increase in the number of days”?
Whilst I am not against change per se, I see this as the “thin end of the wedge” which will eventually inhibit public access.
Coun Harrison needs to come clean as to just what the council’s ambition is for the Stray.
As for public consultation we can see how little that is valued by this council when they raised no protest over NYCC plans to impose Sunday parking charges in Harrogate, despite a 93 per cent NO vote. With a large majority there is always a temptation to ignore public opinion.
Even if this council means what it says, what is to stop a future council exploiting this public amenity to maximize its income?
As a previous Leader of the Council I have crossed swords with the Stray Defence Association on many occasions, however I fully support the comments of their chairman on this issue.
Although not born and bred in Harrogate (I have only lived here for 31 years) I use the Stray regularly and hugely value the open space for recreational purposes and for its beneficial environmental impact.
I can live comfortably with the current restrictions defining the use of this wonderful open space and would urge your readers to object to these changes.
Burnside Drive, Harrogate