Following on from the debate about whether large events and festivals are suitable to site in the Valley Gardens, many people say that the obvious place for them is on the Stray. But, as we know, the use of the Stray is confined by the 1985 Stray Act.
Harrogate Borough Council has now set the wheels in motion to attempt to amend or replace this Act.
If Harrogate Borough Council wants to “pursue its ambition” to bring more and bigger events to the town and the infrastructure is not available then this ambition cannot be fulfilled.
The current members of HBC should not take it upon themselves to seek to change the Act – which is not that old – in order for these ambitions to be realised.
The act was put in place to protect the Stray from exactly the type of event that HBC now want to hold there.
To host the Grand Depart in 2014 parts of the Act were suspended by Parliament. To host a stage in the Tour de Yorkshire 2017 HBC have applied for the same. HBC wish to avoid having to do this whenever they want an event to take place.
By amending the Act in their own favour HBC will be able to site many more events and festivals, but at the cost of causing the Stray to lose its protection and the people to lose the rights and privileges which have been enjoyed by residents and visitors for over 200 years.
The Valley Gardens are a much loved attraction in themselves and do not need food or fire festivals to bring tourists to the town.
The same can be said of the Stray, which is as much loved and in need of the same care. It has been in existence all this time because it is protected by the 1985 Act and, before that, the 1893 Act.
The Valley Gardens and the Stray are both beautiful and well loved amenities that local people and visitors enjoy. Neither should be sacrificed to satisfy HBC’s increasing mania for events.