Op Ed: Time for the madness around the Harrogate Gateway Project and Low Traffic Neighbourhoods to stop

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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



 

7 Comments

  1. After bouncing around and swerving to miss various potholes this morning. I wonder if just a tiny bit of this money could be used to maintain what we have. The maintenance in Harrogate is atrocious.

  2. It was Cll Mackenzie who wanted to decimate the Greenway with a so called relief road untill the public stood up to him and voted against it. Time the rest of NYCC stood up to him or better still get rid of him altogether!

    • Councillor McKenzie just wants to copy York Harrogate needs local people to get into town as easy as possible park. And ride should be a priority however though traffic has to go through to Skipton or Ripon ect

  3. I completely agree. It’s a pattern that’s repeated up and down the country, in towns and large cities across England where councils and councillors opine from ivory towers, telling the very people who pay their wages what’s good for them and, ultimately, telling them what it is that they should want.

    NYCC seems particularly badly affected, ‘ruled’ by professional councillors with no regard to being held to account; they consider themselves above scrutiny by the people who appoint them because those very people don’t care enough to get upset.

    Want to change things? Make sure you vote whenever we’re allowed to cast ballot. It’s a Rotten Borough, alright, but we’re at the thin end of the wedge.

  4. Agree with you completely. I am 100% in favour of carbon reduction, safer cycling and walking etc but do not see how these rushed plans are going to work Yet again NYCC and Councillor McKenzie wrongly thinking he knows what’s best for Harrogate!

  5. Absolutely right. Credit to whoever who wrote it. NYCC/HBC have been given some money and they’ve got to use it quickly before they lose it because of ridiculous govt conditions attached to the grants. They have decided where to throw it. Enlightened and visionary suggestions are being ignored in all consultations. They seem to consult the cycling lobby during meetings. Do they consult with a pedestrian group ? It seems to be about re-arranging the deckchairs on the Titanic rather than addressing the long term problems and bigger issues that prolonged complacency has ignored. Something has gone seriously wrong when the pursuit of “cycling and pedestrian safety” blights residential neighbourhoods and moves the problem somewhere else. Is it any surprise that nationally, seriously flawed LTN projects are being dismantled and knocked on the head shortly after the money has been squandered creating them. All image and no substance. Pathetic.

  6. Nycc seem to have found the magic money tree. Buying land from tees esk and wear NHS trust and paying rediculas amounts to make driving more difficult. How can restricting traffic and losing parking spaces help Harrogate’s struggling retail shops. If we can’t get to town easily we will purchase online which will mean more delivery trucks. At a time when we are changing to electric vehicles we need to encourage people into our town not ailianate them. Encouraging cyclists into an area where they will encounter large delivery vehicles is also a risk especially if they are traveling contrary to the one way system.

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