Stray decision - Council scraps controversial plans to relax rules

The cherry blossom are safe on the Stray.
The cherry blossom are safe on the Stray.

Harrogate Council has ditched its controversial plans to change the Stray Act which would have enabled it to hold more commercial events on the Stray.

In a statement to the Advertiser this week, the council announced it had decided to drop its plans, amid huge public controversy which prompted the biggest ever response to a council consultation.Opposition to the proposed changes to the Stray Act came from residents and from the Harrogate Advertiser, all fearing an over commercialisation of the Stray.
The Council says it will take some time to analyse all the comments and suggestions about the Stray, but interim results indicated no clear majority for change.
Coun Michael Harrison, who was leading the consultation on changes to the Stray Act for the council, said: “This is a complex issue and one which I acknowledge aroused suspicions among the public about the Council’s motives.
“There have been doubts raised that the Council would not listen to the outcome of the consultation if it was not to their liking.
“This is regrettable as the motive for holding the consultation was quite simple: to find out what people thought and to take action accordingly.”
“Whilst we await a full summary of the consultation it appears views are mixed and because of what seems likely to be a balanced headline result I do not think it appropriate to pursue any changes to the Stray Act to relax the rules governing its use.
“In saying that we must acknowledge that a
significant amount of people do want us to be able to use the Stray for the occasional larger or community event and the council will do what it can to accommodate these within the existing limitations.
“We will take time to assess the outcome of this consultation fully, including
the many thousands of additional comments and suggestion the public have made, and will share the full results in due course with
both the Duchy of Lancaster, who own the land, and residents.
“We also asked people to tell us what they thought of the current use of the Stray for temporary events and how it could improve.
“We received many suggestions and I want to reassure residents that each of these comments is welcome and each will be considered when we look at future applications for the temporary use of the Stray.”