Op Ed: Why we are talking about the wrong things with the Harrogate Gateway Project and Low Traffic Neighbourhoods


There’s lots of discussion around the plans to make changes to some of the Harrogate roads, along with a trial that is already running.

  • Beech Grove is already running a Low Traffic Neighbourhood
  • Oatlands Drive, had a proposal for a one-way system, but has been withdrawn
  • The Gateway Scheme, extensive proposals are up for discussion. That’s James’s street and the area that greets you from exiting the railway station

The problem is there is too much talk, as an example, that closing Beech Grove is the objective or developing an area of the town centre is an objective, but both are just mechanisms to an objective of course, and that is being lost in the noise of the situation.

Many of the comments or oppositions are just referenced to the hear and now and how it will affect an individual.

So winding the discussion back a little, we need to accept a reality that these are measures to primarily reduce car usage and better cycling routes is really second to that. The Gateway scheme is part of creating a better welcome to the town for train and bus users, but to connect them more easily with the town.

But wind the discussion back even more, we need to reduce car usage as the planet is being slowly being killed. The public has continued to rely on cars, something we can all see for ourselves how true that is – it is also very apparent that there is no major shift away from that.

The World Economic Forum Forum met in June 2020, under the name of “The Great Reset”.  The theme is rebuilding society and the economy in what is claimed to be a more sustainable way following COVID-19, and yes some of the things that may be part of The Great Reset are hugely controversial, but this also fits into that agenda.

Locally there are groups, such as Zero Carbon Harrogate and Harrogate District Climate Coalition that are doing great work, but need a louder voice, and people need to pay attention to what they are saying. Perhaps of the need for these groups hasn’t been said strongly enough.

News and people’s take-up of news or communication generally has changed. This is a news item that should have people’s attention, but the reality is that a news item, for instance, about a road accident will get much more attention.

But that leads into the topic of how the public is commenting on these proposals. If I worked in Highways at North Yorkshire County Council, then I think I would be more than a little worn down with the barrage of negative comments, and as an aside they receive more comments from Harrogate than anywhere else in the county.  Anything that stops people doing what they maybe would normally do is going to going to provoke a reaction, but people need to think if that reaction means you don’t want to take your part in reducing the carbon load of the world and protecting the planet. And people also need to be honest if there reaction is just based on nimbyism.

None of these projects have budgets that can be reassigned to such things as potholes, they are budgets that come with conditions, and NYCC have bid for the money with outline schemes that meet those conditions.

So what needs to happen ?

  • NYCC need to talk more about the bigger picture, rather than just proposed actions
  • There is an onus on people to find out more for themselves
  • Harrogate needs to be together on these changes, there are apparent battles lines being drawn
  • Everyone can have an opinion and should make their opinion known, but opinions tend to be made when they are strongly for or strongly against something

People are invited to give their comments by completing an online survey, which will run until Monday, 12 April 2021.

To take part please visit www.northyorks.gov.uk/socialdistancingandactivetravel

To comment on the Harrogate Gateway Project (deadline 24 March 2021) please see:

Harrogate Station Gateway | Your Voice (westyorks-ca.gov.uk)

To see the open online meeting. 10 March 2021.

By Tim Cook, Editor

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