At the North Yorkshire County Council Annual Meeting on 21 May 2014, Cllr Simister requested that Cllr Dadd attended a Harrogate area meeting on 29 May 14 to listen directly to traders concerns over the Leeds road M&S build and associated changes to the road junction.
In response, Cllr Dadd accused Cllr Simister of electioneering, having no real concern for the Leeds Road traders and then declined to attend the meeting.
Councillor Gareth Dadd is the executive member for highways and planning service.
David Simister is the elected member for Bilton & Nidd Gorge on North Yorkshire County Council
Work has recently completed on changes to the traffic junction adjacent to the new M&S food store on Leeds road. The work has caused massive traffic delays to vehicles travelling both into and out of Harrogate with traders on the existing row of shops seeing a turnover drop by 40% compared to the same period last year.
A transcript from the meeting
At the full council meeting, Cllr Simister asked Cllr Dadd: I wonder if Cllr Dadd is aware of the issues regarding the A61 in Harrogate with building of a new Marks and Spencers food hall?
We have an area committee meeting next Thursday where traders will be present, they suffered terrible hardship and commuters have been inconvenienced for the best part for 4 months.
We have David Bowe <Director – Business and Environmental Services at North Yorkshire County Council> attending the meeting to answer questions and I wonder if Councillor Dadd will be attending as well? – thank you.
Cllr Dadd responded: I can’t quiet remember what the question was….. oh yes I do, Leeds Road.
And of course I have probably had this question put to me every time I open the Harrogate Advertiser with Cllr Simister’s name to the latest press release.
I mean it’s all geared for tomorrow and his Ukip profile, it has nothing to do with his concern about Leeds road I would suggest.
I am well aware of it, we have tried to work with the developers to mitigate some of those effects.
To answer his question, will I be at the area planning meeting – No.
To listen to the excerpt from the meeting:
Tony Medri, leads the Oatlands Traders group that was setup to tackle the issues the M&S development has brought about. It is a group that has sought to engage with the authorities involved and to represent the concerns that they have.
Tony has listened to the audio recording and was shocked by Cllr Dadd’s response.
Tony said: Cllr Simister has been working with us for some time and we are very grateful of his support.
I am shocked by Cllr Dadd’s response and disappointed that he felt he couldn’t attend the meeting – I would have personally welcomed an opportunity to have met him and talk.
This shouldn’t be made an issue about party politics, it’s about looking at what has gone wrong and making sure it doesn’t happen again.
Following the meeting, Cllr Simister said: I was elected to represent the residents of Harrogate – and that is exactly what I was doing when I asked Cllr Dadd this perfectly reasonable question.
Clearly Cllr Dadd is unaware that I travel the Leeds Road on a daily basis to get from my home in a Bilton to my office in Pannal.
And, like thousands of commuters everyday, I was caught up in the M&S roadworks.
His reply was totally uncalled for and an insult to the traders, residents and commuters who suffered months of disruption and hardship as a result of the agonisingly-slow work at this busy crossroads.
Speaking following the meeting Cllr Dadd has said he stands by his response at the Annual General Meeting.
Cllr Dadd said: He could have asked me outside the meeting to attend and the response would have been very different. The Cllr took the opportunity to ask the question in front of a large forum.
It was clearly about looking for the next vote.
I am standing by what I said.