Harrogate Borough Council Lib Dems have said they were disappointed at the very low response to the public consultation on the proposed changes to office accommodation. Only 822 people from a district-wide population of around 159,000 took the time to respond.
822 comments represent 0.5% of the district population
HBC Lib Dem Group Leader, Cllr Philip Broadbank, said: If you take out the staff who answered the consultation, there were actually only 625 responses.
Of these non-staff, resident responses, 51% were for the “preferred” option and 49% were for the unpreferred option. Hardly a ringing or conclusive endorsement of a scheme that has already been subject to considerable local taxpayer expense.
It’s difficult to see how objective such survey questions can be in eliciting a balanced response from members of the public when the questions– involving such terms as “preferred option”– have been couched in such a way, and have, in addition, included expensive drawings. Also, it was interesting to note that of the total number of people living in Harrogate town, staff and non-staff, over 52% voted against the new build option.
The Lib Dem Group still favours an approach that would see any decision deferred until the future shape of local government is certain.
Helen Flynn, Deputy Leader of the Lib Dem Group said: It just seems reckless to go ahead with any scheme when there is so much uncertainty.
We need to be proactive in determining what our council will look like before such large and costly decisions are taken. It is the only sensible approach. In addition, it would make sense that the HBC town centre strategy, currently being undertaken by consultants, is confirmed so that everything joins up from a heritage and new development point of view.