Dear Reader: Pinewoods signs controversy - remain or leave?

A regular column by the Harrogate Advertiser's Graham Chalmers

Friday, 15th July 2016, 10:11 am
Updated Friday, 15th July 2016, 11:19 am
Part of the controversial Pinewoods sign in Harrogate.

You can’t please all of the people all of the time is, perhaps, a mantra for these post-Brexit times.

Take the Pinewoods in Harrogate.

The one problem with making a walkers path nice enough for everyone to use in this popular wooded spot is that everyone might want to use it.

Should walkers give way to cyclists or cyclists to walkers?

Do horses have priority over dogs or dogs over horses?

Once upon a time the answer would have been simple.

The needs of the many would have held sway over the interests of the few.

In an era of personal choice where we are all individuals, yes, we are, the question is something of a moot point.

It’s one Pinewoods Conservation Group has been wrestling with recently.

The hard-working charity had hoped to encourage common courtesy between the different groups of people now using the freshly tarmaced path in the woods at the top of the Valley Gardens by putting up some blue and white signs urging a little politeness.

Ironically, Harrogate Borough Council got a different message from the signs, deciding they might serve to attract even more people on bicycle and horses to this lovely and popular route.

The result? The walkers and dogs, cyclists and horse riders are still there but the signs aren’t.

And so, in its own British way the situation rolls on, everyone doing what they want but no one entirely happy. A frustrating, very modern solution.

I visited the magnificent ruins of Knaresborough Castle above the waters of the River Nidd last week to meet the creators of a new version of The Wind in the Willows.

I hadn’t expected much but the clue to the highly ambitious nature of this forthcoming production of Kenneth Grahame’s classic children’s novel lay in the rendezvous point.

It soon emerged that the whole show will take place in a variety of locations along the Nidd itself, starting at the castle.

It’s almost as if Ratty and Badger and Mole and Toad actually live by this particular river.

Talking to the play’s professional director it became clear that an amazing army of different volunraty groups and individuals across the town had signed up to make the show happen.

How typically Knaresborough.

Over the years many people have asked me where it’s possible to find a similar breadth of community spirit in the arts in Harrogate.

For once I have an answer – the brand new Happygate festival which will take place at Valley Gardens on Sunday, July 24.

Totally independent, totally self-funded, totally voluntary, this free arts and music festival has no aim except to showcase local talent in a fun way and fundraise for local charities.