Dear Reader: Digesting traffic congestion situation + bravery of purple man

A vision of a bike-friendly, less congested Harrogate. (Image by Zero Carbon Harrogate)
A vision of a bike-friendly, less congested Harrogate. (Image by Zero Carbon Harrogate)

A personal column by the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers

Looking for an easy way out is a natural temptation but what if all possible routes are, well, difficult?
Such is the situation surrounding the question of easing traffic congestion in Harrogate and Knaresborough.
When a small group of executive members of North Yorkshire County Council took the decision last Friday to ignore Harrogate councillors’ seemingly decisive vote of the week before in favour of package B and, instead, opted to investigate further both packages B and E, it felt like they’d simply opted to, er, park the problem.
But the county council’s decision to launch another set of lengthy studies into both sustainable measures to reduce traffic and also relief roads to give traffic extra roads to travel on, as well as the establishment of a “wider engagement group” to, er , engage with public opinion, may require a different analogy.
Perhaps the county council has simply changed gear?
This entire disagreement is an unusual one in that the people who will only contemplate package B and the people happy to contemplate both packages B and E both agree the solution is complicated.
Yet both also believe the other side is completely wrong.
Whatever happens, one thing is sure - the final decision in this torturous world of proper procedure will have a major impact on the lives of people living near Bilton Lane and that of the wildlife in Bilton Fields and Nidd Gorge.
Who wins may ultimately hinge on which side presents the best facts and the best evidence.
Whatever happens in this thorny issue, it’s this newspaper’s job not only to reflect the interests of all sides but what actually seems to be in the best interests of the town.

The Purple Man outside Sutcliffe Galleries in Harrogates Montpellier Quarter.

The Purple Man outside Sutcliffe Galleries in Harrogates Montpellier Quarter.


The man dressed from head to toe in purple last Thursday night looked a bit forlorn in the chilly night air and clinging mist.
It wasn’t the perfect weather for a man in fancy dress, nor for a celebratory street party marking 25 years of Harrogate’s most successful community of independent traders – Montpellier Quarter.
But the show must go on and the festivities carried on regardless in the shops and galleries, bars and restaurants of this lovely cobble-stoned area located by the twinkling winter lights of The Stray.
Even the man in purple usually to be seen doing good work for worthy charities in York stuck to his task of being jolly as late night shoppers munched on hot chesnuts to ward off the cold. How very British.
It was a perfect display of the sort of dogged determination and positive spirit which led to the establishment of the Montpellier Quarter 25 years ago in the first place.
If I’ve learnt anything in my own 50 years or so, and I’m not saying I have, it’s that trying is its own reward no matter what the outcome.