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Harrogate Borough Council has asked the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government
to agree to the suspension of the Parliamentary Act 1985 protecting Harrogate’s Stray
to facilitate the hosting of the 2014 tour de France

 

Letter to the Editor of The Harrogate Advertiser, published 19th December 2013:

Jean MacQuarrie
The Editor
Ackrill Media Group
1 Cardale Park
Harrogate
HG3 1RZ

16th December 2013

Dear Madam

Without wishing in any way to seem anything other than supportive of the Tour de France and all that it will bring to Yorkshire, and Harrogate in particular, the Stray Defence Association feel that the people of Harrogate & District need to be made much more aware of what exactly the local Council is proposing when it asked the Secretary of State to suspend the Act of Parliament which currently protects the Stray. Many may not realise the impact of what the application entails.

Altogether three areas of Stray are to be commandeered for the Tour’s coverage, one of which will be for the landing of numerous helicopters. Do people appreciate, for example, that the whole of West Park Stray will be cordoned off and that the people of Harrogate will have no right of access over it?

What is currently being asked for is:

• An enclosed secure technical zone, to include approximately 130 trucks, and temporary living accommodation to be provided close to the technical area for the technicians to stay whilst they set up the infrastructure to support the Tour de France;
• Facilities for the anticipated number of spectators, to include at least two grandstands accommodating 80 people per stand (required by the Amaury Sport Organization);
• A large screen for spectators;
• An area for merchandising kiosks and tents (required by the Amaury Sport Organization);
• Approximately 300 toilets;
• Catering facilities;
• An area for spectators for the second day of the tour;
• Temporary roads for support vehicles (there are approximately 250 support vehicles consisting of team cars, cars for officials and medical vehicles);
• Car parking (although Harrogate Borough Council is working to accommodate as much car parking as possible within the municipal car parks);
• An assembly point for approximately 180 advertising vehicles (a procession of floats that precede the cyclists in crossing the finish line);
• Provision for emergency vehicles; and
• A helicopter landing area.

Most of the above will be provided for on West Park Stray

The whole document, including maps, can be seen on the following website:

www.gov.uk/government/consultations/harrogate-borough-council-general-power-of-competence

Comments and complaints must be made to the Secretary of State’s office by noon on 7th January 2014 when the consultation closes.

Suspension of a Parliamentary Act protecting Harrogate’s Stray is not something which should be regarded as a minor issue. Without protection the Stray is, potentially, open to irreparable damage, and misappropriation. Our belief is that the council are being very optimistic about the timescale they have put on restoring the Stray to its original state. Should the weather be inclement this could prove a lengthy process.

Only after we wrote to the Council’s legal officer did we receive any information and prior to this we had not been consulted or informed at all. We have voiced our concerns about the precedent this ‘suspension’ may set and are also seeking absolute assurances that the Stray will indeed be fully restored to its previous state, with no permanent appropriation of Stray land, damage, removal of trees, shrubs, plants, etc. once the period ends.

The Stray belongs to the people of Harrogate and its importance to the town is immeasurable.

Let us hope that the suspension of its legal protection does not result in a Tour de Farce.

Judy d’Arcy Thompson

The Stray Defence Association

 


 

The Stray Defence Association's response to the Department for Communities and Local Government's consultation:

 

Ruth Miller
Department for Communities and Local Government
Zone 3/J1 Eland House
Bressenden Place
London, SW1E 5DU

6th January 2014

Dear Ms Miller,

Re: Proposal to enable Harrogate Borough council to use the general power of competence with confidence in hosting the Grand Départ of the Tour de France 2014

As we understand this from your website ‘The proposal would see the Secretary of State using his powers from Section 5(1) of the Localism Act to disapply parts of the Harrogate Stray Act 1985 from 23 June to 8 July 2014 for defined areas of the Stray for the sole purpose of hosting the Tour de France’

Without wishing in any way to seem anything other than supportive of the Tour de France and all that it will bring to Yorkshire, and Harrogate in particular, the Suspension of a Parliamentary Act protecting Harrogate’s Stray is not something which should be regarded as a minor issue. Without protection the Stray is, potentially, open to irreparable damage, and misappropriation. The proposed Suspension is clearly removing necessary protection for the Stray

The Stray Defence Association believe that the people of Harrogate & District need unqualified assurances from Harrogate Borough Council that this proposal is only for a very limited, and prescribed, period and that all the areas of the Stray commandeered for this purpose will be wholly reinstated as soon as possible after the event has taken place.

By wholly reinstated we mean the following:

• That the full protection of the Stray by its Parliamentary Act will be restored at the end of the prescribed period of time
• That no area of Stray land whatsoever will be misappropriated
• That no area of Stray land whatsoever will be permanently damaged
• That no area of Stray land whatsoever will sustain the loss of any trees; shrubs; plants; bulbs; or grass
• That no area of Stray land whatsoever will have any roads or pathways remaining after this event other than those originally there and in their original widths and positions

In the opinion of the Stray Defence Association the removal of the protection given by the Harrogate Stray Act can only be justified if written assurances have been received from Harrogate Borough Council that the Stray will be wholly reinstated as set out above within a reasonable period after the event. I therefore request that the Secretary of State, the Rt. Hon. Eric Pickles M.P., require such assurances to be given as a pre-condition to the Suspension of the Act.

The Stray belongs to the people of Harrogate and its importance to the town is immeasurable. Therefore, protection of the 200 acres of Stray is not something taken lightly by the people of the area, nor The Stray Defence Association.

As guardians of the Stray since 1933 this Association takes its role very seriously and we would ask that all assurances, as detailed above, are received, in writing, as soon as possible in order that we, in turn, can assure the people of Harrogate that their precious Stray will not suffer any long term detriment and that its full legal protection will be restored as soon as this ‘temporary suspension’ of the Parliamentary Act is at an end.

Yours faithfully,

Mrs J M d’Arcy Thompson

Chairman
The Stray Defence Association

Save Our Stray