Boost for rural transport set to open up areas for tourists

multi-million pound bids to boost transport links and open up some of the remotest parts of a Yorkshire national park to the lucrative tourism trade are set to be finalised next month.

The proposals centred on the Esk Valley in the North York Moors National Park are aimed at providing a more sustainable transport network and include plans for improved bus services and a park and ride facility in Whitby.

Harrogate’s road network will also be upgraded as part of the project in a bid to ease the major congestion that blights the spa town.

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The strategy is heavily themed around preserving the environment, and an electric bike hire scheme is also due to be launched if around £10m in funding can be secured from the Government as part of its Local Sustainable Transport Plan (LSTP).

North Yorkshire County Council’s Executive is due to decide on whether to push forward with both bids at its meeting on January 10.

Executive member for highways and planning, Coun Gareth Dadd, said: “We are being asked to look at the report and approve the submission of the bid. It has had unanimous support from all the area committees involved, including Harrogate and Yorkshire Coast and Moors.

“As well as improving the transport network for residents of North Yorkshire in these two locations, it is also going to help boost the economy, which is exactly what the Government is looking for.”

The initial proposals also included a park and ride scheme in Harrogate. However Coun Dadd said the authority had been forced to delay the scheme due to time constraints placed on its delivery.

“However we have a number of measures that we plan to put in place to ease congestion and improve traffic flow in the town,” said Coun Dadd.

“If we decide to push ahead with the bids, I am hopeful we will get approval from the Government, although not overly confident.

“These schemes are vital for both communities. The important thing is it will be entirely funded form the Government and therefore there will be no cost to the tax payer.”

A total of £560m in funding is being made available nationally up until 2014/15 under the LSTP, and bids have to be submitted before a deadline of February 24.