Letter: The stray - Protection, not a blanket ban

The Stray
The Stray

Thank you for your fantastic Tour de Yorkshire souvenir pullout and the coverage which showed just how brilliant Harrogate is for events like these. Not just the town centre but also all the surrounding towns and villages of the Harrogate District.

The efficiency with which the borough council managed the event showed that, as in 2014, hosting major events can go hand in hand with preserving the heritage of the heart of Harrogate.

Will my pullout be a collector’s item though?

Following the public consultation on amending the Stray Act, councillors have announced that they will not be pursuing changes to the Act which limits the type, duration and scale of events that can be held on the Stray. Without amendment, the only way that events such as this can be staged is by seeking exemptions through Parliament.

Quite rightly, the MPs and House of Lords should have more pressing issues to deal with and the council has already been told that a third exemption is unlikely and a fourth impossible.

Do the thousands of people in the district, who lined the streets in 2014 and last week to celebrate these events, want to accept the finality of this position and deny ourselves the opportunity to host the Cycling Road World Championships in 2019, a returning Tour de France or a future edition of the Tour de Yorkshire?

Yes, we need protection of the Stray but not a blanket ban on its use by so many people.

I respect the views of those who wish to protect it, but a glance at the Stray Defence Association website shows the many changes that have happened over the years – should the 21st century be devoid of change?

We have elected politicians to make decisions in the best interest of the entire district. Those who would support change did not come out in the consultation in the same numbers as came out to support the events but they must speak up now to embolden and empower our local representatives to seek the limited changes that will enable occasional large scale events to take place in future.

Using the headline “We will listen to the public over the Stray” as the example of “trusted news” in your campaign is ironic in an edition where it is clear from the rest of the newspaper that the public missed an opportunity to be heard.

If the Advertiser wants to be able to provide interesting local coverage in future, it might also be well advised to take a lead in promoting change.

Peter Whiteley

Pannal Ash Road, Harrogate