People power ends hated Nidd Gorge relief road plan - now find a way forward on Harrogate's congestion woes: The Yorkshire Post says

MP Andrew Jones with anti relief road protesters earlier this year. PIcture: Gerard Binks
MP Andrew Jones with anti relief road protesters earlier this year. PIcture: Gerard Binks
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Anyone who lives, works in or visits Harrogate will be well-aware of the town’s congestion problems and there is widespread agreement action should be taken to tackle the problem. But the still-to-be-resolved question is precisely what form that action should take.

North Yorkshire County Council has now abandoned controversial proposals for a relief road which would have passed through the beautiful area of Nidd Gorge after an extensive community campaign against the plan.

Yesterday’s decision represents a victory for people power after almost 80 per cent of the 15,000 local residents who took part in a Harrogate Congestion Study earlier this year rejected the idea, while proposals for the introduction of a congestion charge were also opposed by a large margin.

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Residents were instead more supportive of alternative options such as introducing park and ride facilities and improving cycling and walking routes.

While such ideas are undoubtedly laudable, it is yet to be seen whether they will encourage enough people to give up their vehicles to make a genuine difference and councillors have warned difficult and potentially unpopular decisions may lie ahead “to persuade people out of the cars” through measures like higher parking charges.

Harrogate is one of the most attractive places to live in Yorkshire, with a high quality of life and the host of major events such as the Great Yorkshire Show and the recent UCI Road World Championships.

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To ensure it and the areas surrounding it remain that way, tackling the plague of traffic congestion needs to be dealt with.