It’s time for the shambles of the Harrogate Gateway Project and implementation of Low Traffic Neighbourhood to stop.
It’s true to say that Harrogate has been left behind in the reasoning for these projects and it’s time for them to be paused. The communication was poor from the start and crucially was centred around telling people what they were doing rather than why they were doing it, leaving most people scratching their heads as to to why over £7million achieves so little for the town.
North Yorkshire County Council have declined our requests for media interviews over the installation both the Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and the Harrogate Gateway Project.
A spokesperson for North Yorkshire County Council said: “At this stage, we don’t feel we could add to what you have discussed with Cllr Mackenzie”
When a consultation is do you want something or not, that’s not really a consultation, that’s an exercise in being able to demonstrate enough public support to get the budgets.
The sad thing is that both the Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and Harrogate Gateway Project have the potential to benefit the town, and to help contribute to a zero carbon world, but it needs to take the public with them. That is why these projects need to be paused, to allow that to happen.
We must keep in mind the reasons for some of these changes are to benefit the environment and reduce car journeys. That really is the root reasons, and needs to written in bold, but it must be done in a way that works best, not just used as an excuse.
The adopted approach seems to be one of instructing the public, rather than genuine listening and involvement. Although they will say they have consulted, they are only consulting on their preferred options, and have glaringly not asked Harrogate what it wants – when a consultation is “do you want something or not”, that’s not really a consultation, that’s an exercise in being able to demonstrate enough public support to get the budgets.
These projects need to be driven by those with a passion for the town coupled with a passion for the environment, and that is not currently the case. When you get quoted legislation and told they can di it, that isn’t passion that’s just using powers irresponsibly.
A scan through various Facebook pages will see the level of opposition and what is seen as a race by NYCC to get through what they are terming a consultation, that’s a consultation with ridiculously short timescales, coupled with a race by those opposing to make sure they are heard.
But why have I termed the projects madness ? Simply because they are operating without a level of honesty and transparency with the public.
Stage-managed public consultations won’t change the overall strategy and approach or change the view of the public. The project needs to be paused and a genuine strategy of working with Harrogate and talking to people with a level intelligence put in place.
By Tim Cook, Editor