THE Government will have to step in to relax ancient laws protecting Harrogate’s historic Stray to allow the Tour de France to be staged in the spa town.
Council officials in Harrogate announced yesterday that they have approached Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles to ensure the parkland can be used to accommodate audiences as well as trucks and equipment that will be needed to bring the largest annual sporting event to the region.
Harrogate Borough Council has applied for the temporary relaxation of parts of the 18th century Stray Act for a two-week period next summer for areas of the parkland, which is owned by the Queen as part of the Duchy of Lancaster estate.
The council’s chief solicitor, Jennifer Norton, said: “We have already spoken to the Duchy to seek their thoughts and they are supportive of our approach. The Act imposes a number of restrictions as to what activities can take place on The Stray. New rules under the recent Localism legislation, give us the opportunity to ask for this relaxation.”
The relaxation of the legislation will allow The Stray to be used to park the Tour’s support vehicles as well as setting up areas for spectators. A giant screen is also due to be erected, and The Stray will also be used for a podium to present the winners of the stage. The council has stressed it is working with organisations such as the Stray Defence Association, and the land will be fully reinstated after the Tour has taken place.
The Grand Départ’s route will set off from Leeds to Harrogate on July 5 next year before starting in York and finishing in Sheffield the following day.
The Stray was created in 1778 by an Act of Parliament, which fixed its size at 200 acres, requiring any land lost due to road-building and other development to be replaced elsewhere. A public consultation on the relaxation of the law is being staged with responses needed ahead of a January 7 deadline.