North Yorkshire County Council Highways, along with a team of external consultants are looking at what can be done to improve the congestion problems in Harrogate.
Two options, from a shortlisted 5 have been proposed to be taken through to a public consultation.
- A relief road along with a package of demand management/ other highways improvements
- A package of demand management/ other highways improvements
The majority of county councillors are in favour of consulting on option 2, but consulting on that option after further detail has been worked-up.
But should the public be denied the right to a consultation an a solution that involves all options ?
It is certainly true that there is opposition to a relief road through the Nidd Gorge, but there is also support from the wider community in reducing congestion.
Tomorrow (15 December 2017) will see a final decision being made at County Hall by the Business and Environmental Services (BES) Executive. Although the Harrogate County Council Councillors voted to not support a consultation that included a relief road, their vote was only advisory.
But should the public be given a consultation on their views ?
What is known
- Harrogate has a congestion problem
- Journey times are long.
- The long journey times are detrimental to the local economy.
- The congestion is contributing to poor air quality.
- A relief road alone is not a solution to congestion, it needs to be coupled with demand management and operational improvements on the existing network.
- The majority of Harrogate area county councillors don’t support a relief road.
- The plans need support to be taken forward to gain budget from central government – County Council can’t proceed without that money.
What’s not completely known
- The impact that a relief road would have on the Nidd Gorge.
- The exact route through the Nidd Gorge the relief road would take, if chosen.
- If the relief road will have an exit to Bilton Lane. County Council have said this would make the relief road much more effective, but it would be part of a further consultation.
- If central government budget is available, even if a valid case is put forward.
What is being argued?
- If a relief road would work as a short or long term solution.
- If an area of green space, the Nidd Gorge, should have a road through it.
- If a relief road through the Nidd Gorge would open the area up for further development.
- How well other, sustainable, measures would be at reducing congestion – County Council have said that these measure alone would not be sufficient in addressing the congestion.
- If County Council should commit time and money if a relief road is unachievable.
What other question should be being asked?
- The external consultant report by WSP says that no options should be discounted at this stage, why is it that NYCC are proposing only two options for a public consultation?
- Do public consultations work ? To gain funding a level of public support needs to be demonstrated, but respondents tend to be motivated on being against. The tendency of those that support or are indifferent is to do nothing.
But what do you think ?