This morning will see the 'big reveal' as the start date looms for a 12-week public consultation on ideas to tackle Harrogate’ and Knaresborough’s terrible traffic congestion - including a possible new road near Nidd Gorge.
A media briefing at the Cairn Hotel in Harrogate by North Yorkshire County Council this morning, Monday at 10am will unveil the details of the consultation - who exactly will get the chance to take part and just what possible traffic solution ideas such as green measures and new roads will be put to the public.
The consultation is being run by North Yorkshire County Council after more than a year of discussions, meetings and two separate Harrogate Congestion Study reports by WSP, the powerful international agency which offers a consultancy service, as well as providing transportation and infrastructure engineering.
David Bowe, North Yorkshire County Council’s corporate director of business and environmental services, said: “The engagement will run from Monday, April 15, until Monday, July 8 which will give people plenty of time to consider fully all the issues and to make an informed response to our questionnaire.
“We’re putting a lot of effort into making sure the engagement will be open, accessible and transparent.
"The more people who give us their views about congestion and what they want us to do, the easier it will be for us to develop a final package that reflects the opinions of local people.
“I would urge everyone in the Harrogate and Knaresborough area to look at the information when we release it and to fill in the questionnaire. “
The decision to consider two packages was made by the county council’s, executive members, who include only two Harrogate councillors.
As a result, the public will be allowed to make their voice heard on one package with a raft of ‘green’ measures to discourage car use in Harrogate plus a second package including some sustainable measures but also the possibility of a new Killinghall bypass and a new ‘relief road’ through residential Bilton and Nidd Gorge.
The latter option has already been firmly rejected by Harrogate and Knaresborough MP and Transport Minister Andrew Jones and by the majority of Harrogate county councillors.
Details of the exact content and format of the engagement are still being finalised but it will involve both web and paper versions.
There will also be five public exhibitions to allow people without access to the internet to view information.
Mr Bowe said: “The engagement is not yet live and won’t be until April 15, but it is important for everyone to be aware of this chance to have their say on traffic and travel in and around the towns.”
A key question over the county council’s public consultation is what the details of the format will be.
Local campaigners have expressed concern over whether the consultation will involve the 48,000 homes in Harrogate and Knaresborough or a much wider area towards Skipton, Leeds and York who, perhaps, feel less affinity for Harrogate’s problems.
But Coun Don Mackenzie, North Yorkshire County Council’s executive member for access, is on the record as saying it is local views which will count most.