The leader of Harrogate Borough Council has issued his strongest message yet that the town must embrace a “transport revolution” based on green policies to tackle traffic congestion.
Speaking at a meeting of Harrogate and Knaresborough county councillors at the Cairn Hotel on Thursday to discuss the results of recent public consultation on the subject, Coun Richard Cooper is expected to call for the council to be “evangelists for sustainable travel.”
His comments follow the results of a public survey carried out by North Yorkshire County Council which show the overwhelming majority of the 15,000 responses favoured environmentally-friendly measures while rejecting a ‘Nidd Gorge’ relief road option.
Coun Cooper welcomed the results, saying it has been a positive outcome of the county council's engagement with the public.
Harrogate Borough Council now stood ready to p;ay its full part in a new sustainable future.
Coun Cooper said: “The results of the Harrogate Congestion Study show us people want to see a greener, cleaner future and they want us to stop talking about it and start doing it.
“But sustainable travel isn’t an easy option and I have repeated this many times.
"Some may not like the changes that will have to be made but we must set out to be more than just implementers of this greener, cleaner future.
"We need to be evangelists for sustainable travel and persuaders of the sceptics.”
Coun Cooper said some of the changes needed to create a sustainable future on Harrogate traffic were likely to prove challenging.
But he was keen the council should listen to local businesses and residents as they moved foward.
He said: “This new direction means we have to listen as well as lead.
"This transport revolution needs to be a joint endeavour between residents, shoppers and businesses with agreed goals and a shared purpose.
"That purpose is to enable people to get in to, from and around our area easily and sustainably."
Possible future measures for Harrogate town centre include giving priority to buses, bicycles and pedestrians over cars, the building of new park and rides, better public transport and more pedestrianisation across the town.
With executive member and key county councillor Don Mackenzie also backing the results and the report’s green leanings. Harrogate Borough Council may find itself knocking on an open door when it comes to finalising its plans.
But the report also recommends considering the idea of another new road linking the B6162 Otley Road to the A61 Leeds Road.
The addition of that new idea as an option only has received a positive welcome from Pannal and Burn Bridge Parish Council and HAPARA (Harrogate and Pannal Ash Residents Association).
Comments from councillors and the public from Thursday's meeting will be fed into the ultmate decision on what the next steps are for traffic congestion in Harrogate and Knaresborough which are expected to be taken by the eight members of North Yorkshire County Council’s executive before the end of the year.