David Bowe is the Director of Business and Environmental Services at North Yorkshire County Council. Part of his portfolio of responsibility is Highways. On the 6 July 2015 he addressed the Harrogate Borough Council, Overview and Scrutiny Committee, to talk about the issues that Harrogate has experienced with the various recent road developments.
David Bowe said that a Harrogate transport model is being developed, this has cost in the order of £400k and would likely be available by September 2015. The model should allow traffic impact of new housing developments to be assessed, although would cost around £2,000 each time it was run. This data would help identify proposed planning developments that had a severe impact on roads, as directed by the National Planning Policy Framework.
Mr Bowe was questioned over the prioritisation and level of local consultation on local traffic flow development.
Councillor Marsh pointed out that there hadn’t been consultation on the changes at the Woodlands junction. Mr Bowe acknowledged that they had got that wrong and did attempt to engage at the last minute and that communications can always be better.
The Woodlands junction development was funded from the Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF) a central fund that had deadlines to be spent. It was apparent that NYCC had used this funding based on benefits to pedestrian crossings and benefits to cyclist. It was however not fully clear to what level of detriment that was to overall traffic flow.
The option of a bypass was briefly discussed. David Bowe said that a bypass could be part of the solution, but there will always be adverse effects.
Mr Bowe said that people shouldn’t use their cars for school runs and that a 30 minute journey could be saved across town if people simply got their kids out of the door earlier and they walked.
Councillor Haslam said that NYCC could used HBC as a resource to facilitate better consultations on traffic development. David Bowe said he wasn’t sure how that would work and there was no further discussion on it.
Brian Dunsby from the the Harrogate Chamber of Trade and Commerce addressed the meeting. Mr Dunsby appealed for the formation of a traffic forum made up of HBC, NYCC and other members. He expressed concern on the how vital visitors, leisure and business was to the town and that businesses have a vital role to play, contribute considerable business rates, yet don’t directly have a vote.
No commitment was given by Mr Bowe to set-up a forum or to consider setting the forum up.
Mr Bowe said that NYCC successfully defend 85% of claims made to them around Highways. The temporary repair of potholes was not efficient and they were moving more to a strategy of more planned final-fix repair work.
Overall it was a disappointing meeting with little commitment from David Bowe. It was apparent that there was a will to engage but there were issues with having the resource to do that in a way that worked effectively.