Land next to golf club identified as one of two possible sites for a park and ride for Harrogate
North Yorkshire County Council’s highways boss councillor Don Mackenzie certainly thinks so and has revealed two potential sites of where the shuttle service could be run from.
After looking at 102 locations for the scheme - where people could park outside the town centre and then get the bus in - the two most promising sites have been confirmed as land near Pannal Golf Club and Buttersyke Bar roundabout south of the village.
Coun Mackenzie, executive member for access, said the locations are being given careful consideration and that he believes they could be part - and he insisted only part - of the long-term solution to Harrogate’s traffic woes.
“There have been many discussions around a park and ride for Harrogate with some people saying it would cure all the town’s parking problems,” he said.
“We don’t believe this is the case which is why we are looking at it as part of a package of measures.
“To make park and rides a success, we also need to look at incentives to make drivers want to use them, which could mean higher parking charges in the town centre.”
The “package of measures” which councillor Mackenzie is talking about is the Harrogate Transport Improvement Programme which also includes plans to create a low traffic neighbourhood in Bilton, cycling and walking improvements, and a bypass around Killinghall.
These proposals come off the back of a congestion study which found more than 70 per cent of Harrogate residents believe a park and ride is needed to stop cars clogging up the town centre.
Coun Mackenzie said because construction costs would exceed £10m and that most park and rides run at a financial loss, the service would have to make use of existing bus routes to keep costs to a minimum.
He said the 36 bus route which connects Harrogate with Leeds would be the best way forward for this and was why the council was looking at the two sites near Pannal.
“What people have to bear in mind is that park and rides are very expensive,” councillor Mackenzie said.
“In North Yorkshire we have three in Scarborough and Whitby. At the two sites in Scarborough, we can lose around half-a-million pound during the winter months.”
More details of the plans for Harrogate are to be presented to the county council’s executive in the coming weeks and the progress has been welcomed by the borough council’s cabinet member for carbon reduction and sustainability.
Coun Phil Ireland said: “Harrogate Borough Council is supportive of a park and ride scheme. We believe that it will give people options when travelling into town that will allow a reduction in road traffic, emissions and encourage people to spend more time in town visiting our businesses and attractions.
“We need to do more to challenge the mind-set that the car is the only way to get around Harrogate while recognising that the town draws people in from a wide area, including some with little or no public transport provision so they have to travel to us by car.”
Members of the Harrogate and District Green Party have also got behind the idea but argued just as much careful consideration needs to be given to other modes of travel.
A party spokesperson said: “Reducing car use, by improving and increasing public transport and active travel and rebalancing our travel system is needed in Harrogate.
“A park and ride is just one measure to consider in tackling the reliance on using cars for longer journeys and reducing traffic and congestion. It might not be needed at all if local plans devise a range of solutions to achieve this and can improve rail and bus services enough so that people no longer need to own a car.”