Liberal Democrats while welcoming an £ 11 million investment in a scheme to improve the heart of Harrogate had reservations, shared by many residents and local businesses, about the scheme in its current form.
In order to address some of these reservations, the committee has called on the Council to engage with residents and local business owners to ensure their concerns are listened to. The committee has also requested an active role in the project going forward with a full report on progress coming to the Area Committee’s Autumn meeting.
Councillor Pat Marsh the Committee Chair said:
Of particular concern was the level of poor consultation and lack of any business impact assessment for the project. The council needs to acknowledge their mistakes and learn from them. Many residents and businesses put forward positive suggestions for improving the scheme. There is little evidence that any of this was listened to and actioned.
The lack of long-term investment in the town centre and any meaningful strategic active travel plan for the Harrogate and Knaresborough Constituency means that projects like the Gateway are seen as isolated piecemeal vanity projects by the Councils administration rather than a solution that links improvements in traffic flow throughout the town, leading to significant carbon emission reductions. Or safe cycle routes across the whole town rather than isolated bits of routes that are not joined in any way like Beech Grove, Otley Road and the Gateway scheme. There is nothing in this scheme that will reduce traffic volumes in the town centre to any meaningful degree. The unwillingness of North Yorkshire Council to consider a park and ride scheme for Harrogate further highlights the lack of strategic thinking by the Council.
The councils recent record in failed Levelling Up and active travel funding bids to central government. Plus, the lack of Town Fund money leads to Lib Dems questioning the ability of North Yorkshire Council to deliver this project on time and to budget.