Harrogate is set to host the finish of stage two of the Tour de Yorkshire on Saturday 29 April 2017 after Parliament approved the temporary suspension of the Stray Act 1985, so that the event could be held on the land which surrounds the town centre.
The use of the Stray, which is owned by the Duchy of Lancaster, is regulated by the Harrogate Stray Act 1985, a private Act of Parliament, which gives Harrogate Borough Council powers to manage and protect the land to ensure residents and visitors have free access to enjoy the Stray for general recreation. The Act stipulates that only 3.5 hectares (the size of three international rugby pitches) can be enclosed by fencing an area off or having tents or marquees.
As in 2014, when the town hosted the Tour de France stage 1 finish, the space required to host the event exceeds the 3.5 hectares size limit. As a consequence, the council has had to apply to the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government for the temporary relaxation of some sections of the Stray Act for the area needed for the Tour de Yorkshire.
Between March and May 2016, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) conducted a public consultation on the proposal to temporarily disapply the relevant sections of the Stray Act so that sections of the Stray could be used for a potential spectator hub/fan park and to accommodate the support and media vehicles that are needed to deliver the event.
In November 2016, following consultation and consideration of the statutory conditions, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government decided to lay before Parliament a draft Order to disapply or amend parts of the 1985 Act, for the sole purpose of hosting the Tour de Yorkshire. The draft order was approved on Thursday 19 January 2017.
Councillor Michael Harrison, Deputy Leader of Harrogate Borough Council said: This is fantastic news. It is now less than 13 weeks to go before the world’s best cyclists race through the Harrogate district on a course which will end in Harrogate’s town centre, and I know that excitement is beginning to build around the district.
Events such as the Tour de Yorkshire are extremely popular with residents and a real draw for visitors to our district. The Stray is an ideal location to host such an event, however the process of suspending the Stray Act to allow this to happen is extremely lengthy and bureaucratic, and the decision has come only three months before the Tour de Yorkshire rides into town.
We have now applied to suspend the Stray Act twice in the last three years and government has made it clear that this time-consuming process cannot be repeated indefinitely. If Harrogate wishes to hold large events in the future, then the Stray Act will need to be amended to allow this.
In November last year we launched a public consultation seeking people’s views on whether legislation should be amended so that we can increase the opportunity to hold more and different types of events on the Stray. So, if you would like Harrogate to continue to host large events such as the Tour de Yorkshire in the future then let us know your thoughts.
The Stray Act public consultation finishes on Monday 6 February 2017. The public consultation is available to complete at https://www.harrogate.gov.uk/strayact. Copies of the consultation are also available from the council’s Crescent Gardens offices and at St Peter’s Church on Cambridge Street in Harrogate.
An exhibition of the public consultation materials is also currently being held in the foyer at St Peter’s Church until Sunday 5 February, where officers are available between 11.30am-2pm to answer any questions.