Stray Act plans scrapped

The Stray

9:31am 16th February 2017
(Updated 12:16pm 16th February 2017)

Plans that have divided Harrogate, that would have seen the relaxation of restrictions governing the use of the Stray, have been scrapped.

Harrogate Borough Council had put forward proposals to amend the Stray Act, in order to make it easier to host more large scale events like 2014's Tour de France.

But in a statement, it said interim results from its recent consultation had indicated no clear majority for change.

Thousands of people shared their views.

Councillor Michael Harrison, who lead the consultation, said: “This is a complex issue and one which I acknowledge aroused suspicions among the public about the Council’s motives. 

"There have been doubts raised that the Council would listen to the outcome of the consultation if it was not to their liking. 

"This is regrettable as the motive for holding the consultation was quite simple:  to find out what people thought and to take action accordingly."

He added, “Whilst we await a full summary of the consultation it appears views are mixed and because of what seems likely to be a balanced headline result I do not think it appropriate to pursue any changes to the Stray Act to relax the rules governing its use.

“In saying that we must acknowledge that a significant amount of people do want us to be able to use the Stray for the occasional larger or community event and the council will do what it can to accommodate these within the existing limitations.

"We will take time to assess the outcome of this consultation fully, including the many thousands of additional comments and suggestion the public have made, and will share the full results in due course with both the Duchy of Lancaster, who own the land, and residents.

“We also asked people to tell us what they thought of the current use of the Stray for temporary events and how it could improve.  We received many suggestions and I want to reassure residents that each of these comments is welcome and each will be considered when we look at future applications for the temporary use of the Stray.” 

"Whilst we await a full summary of the consultation it appears views are mixed and because of what seems likely to be a balanced headline result I do not think it appropriate to pursue any changes to the Stray Act to relax the rules governing its use."

Harrogate Borough Council had said the consultation was necessary to hold occasional larger events on the Stray which require Parliament to suspend parts of the Act. 

This was done for the Tour de France and also recently for the Tour de Yorkshire - due to take place later this spring. 

However Parliament has indicated that it is unwilling to repeatedly consider such suspensions to the Act in future, meaning any future opportunities could be lost and additional community or charity events could be ruled out.

Speaking to Stray FM, Chairman of the Stray Defence Association, Judy d'Arcy Thompson, who campaigned against the changes, said:

"I think this is a very clear victory for the voice of reason and the people of Harrogate who really hold their Stray so very close to their hearts and don't want things altering.

"They don't want the council to be able to use and abuse their Stray.

"I'd just like to say thank you to everyone who voted against these proposals.

"We await with great interest being told the absolute numbers involved, for and against.

"I think Harrogate Council should at least come forward and tell us the true result."

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