Letter: Valley gardens - Return them in pristine state

Valley Gardens, Harrogate.
Valley Gardens, Harrogate.

Two weeks after the event it is clear that much of the damage inflicted on the Valley Gardens by the StrEat Festival has recovered remarkably well.

At the same time it cannot be denied that substantial, important areas remain fenced off and show signs of damage that will take a significant time to repair.

That more damage was not done to the gardens is down to luck with the weather rather than any judgement or actions by the organisers or Harrogate Borough Council.

The central area of the Valley Gardens is not named Bogs Field because of its world renowned excellent drainage properties. A couple of hundred years ago it was little more than a waterlogged field into which rose numerous evil smelling springs.

The skill and hard work of generations of ground staff have managed to transform the area into what council leader Richard Cooper has described as “the green jewel in our floral crown”.

The muddy scars left by the StrEat festival demonstrate how easy it is to undo these years of effort.

The Valley Gardens feature a bandstand, so it would be churlish to suggest that no entertainment or celebrations should take place in the park. I doubt if anyone would object to, say, the excellent Forties Day which raises money to improve the gardens.

Any events that are held should be commensurate with the gardens’ ability to host them.

This festival, which required dozens of vehicles to be driven and parked on sodden ground for several days, clearly did not meet this requirement.

It seems that Harrogate Borough Council are now reduced to such dire straits that it feels compelled to pawn out our green jewel at every opportunity in order to make ends meet.

In future it must ensure that this jewel is returned to us in the same pristine condition it was in before being hocked.

Patrick Wray