Harrogate highways work ‘just tinkering around the edges’

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Harrogate’s busy roads are a top priority for North Yorkshire County Council’s highways team, the executive member for highways has said.

However without devolution the millions of pounds the highways teams spend in the district is merely ‘tinkering around the edges’ Coun Don Mackenzie (Con, Saltergate) has said.

NADV 1502183AM Leeds Road. (91502183AM)

NADV 1502183AM Leeds Road. (91502183AM)

North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) has spent £10million repairing over 320,000 pot holes across the county in the last year after the local authority was awarded an additional £5.176m from the Government’s £200m pothole challenge fund in the 2014/15 budget.

The Harrogate district is within the area sixty North Yorkshire County Council, and a quarter of all of North Yorkshire’s population lives in the area.

Coun Mackenzie said: “There is only so much we can do with what we have got. Clearly North Yorkshire County Council would benefit from devolution plans and would be able to carry out a great deal of investment.

“At the moment we are just tinkering around the edges, the council only has so much, there is a lot we would want to do, major investments, possible a relief road but we need to control the budget.”

Area six Highways manager James Malcolm said: “There has been a lot of investment in the Harrogate area, including filling pot holes. We have been so successful that some times people are saying there are too many roadworks. It is great that we investing but people need to understand that all road works aren’t down to us, a lot of the time it is the utilities companies.

“We do evening work, it does cost more, we have to pay for that service but we’re trying to minimise disruption as much as possible.”

Each year area six has a £1million revenue budget for upkeep work such as pot hole filing, and around £1.2million for capital projects.

This budget doesn’t go far and without additional government grants and the council giving extra funding very little work would get done.

Road improvement work on Hookstone Road is costing £600,000 so without additional funding streams that would be half of the annual budget gone.

Over winter the area six team have 13 priority routes to cover from two depots, one at Boroughbridge and the other at Penny Pot Lane.

Extra funding was also spent in North Yorkshire to improve the road network ahead of the Tour de France.

Coun Mackenzie added: “NYCC has a difficult job and they have to do, they have to go out and view all the problems reported to them and decide what to do.

The past twelve months has seen the council criticised for changes to the Leeds Road junction, changes to the Station Parade, Cheltenham Parade junction, and for the Borough Council being unable to refuse planning permissions.

Coun Mackenzie added: “It is not easy, the county council has to be fair and view the traffic model, the difficulties we are having at the moment is because the county council says yes a plan can go ahead with a few changes but local members say no, the traffic is already bad enough.

“I think the planning committee some times fail to understand that the application has to be viewed on its own.”

Mr Malcolm added: “Not all of the roadworks are down to North Yorkshire County Council. Recently we’ve had the Bog Lane traffic lights which were down to the developer. The next major development we will see in Harrogate is the Dunlopillo site which means a roundabout on the A61. They have got to do these works to accommodate all the houses.”

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