The Transport Talk column with Don Mackenzie

Councillor Don Mackenzie.
Councillor Don Mackenzie.

Since my last column article two months ago, the NYCC 2018 highways repair programme is well underway. In this district, some 250 streets are on the list for surface dressing, whilst there are several key roads which are badly damaged which will be fully resurfaced.

The work will involve 70 miles of highway in Harrogate Borough alone, including Harrogate, Knaresborough and Ripon bypasses.

Major investment has taken place in equipment for the county council's highways repairs.

Major investment has taken place in equipment for the county council's highways repairs.

Surface dressing is a very economical procedure suited to road surfaces which are in relatively good condition. Patching of potholes is followed by the application of bituminous liquid on to which stone chippings are spread and compacted by roller. These are allowed to bed in for a day before two or three mechanical sweeps take place. This year we have introduced a procedure for Harrogate’s estate roads known as Lock Chip which involves a second application of bituminous sealant to bind the chippings. Surface dressing extends the life of the road by up to 10 years and can be completed very quickly so that neither residents nor drivers are inconvenienced for very long, and the road is usable immediately afterwards.

There are several key roads in the Harrogate area, which require proper resurfacing because of the damage they have suffered, usually caused by the sheer volume of traffic using them. They include Skipton Road and Otley Road. Beckwith Road is still to be done although the recent announcement by Yorkshire Water that further water mains replacement have pushed back completion of their works to August has delayed that scheme.

Public Transport

NYCC has recently made a change to the way bus passes are renewed. Up until recently, pass holders would be sent a letter asking if they wished to have their pass renewed. Only when this was confirmed was a new pass issued. Now, bus passes are being automatically re-issued, thereby saving time, effort and money.

There are currently some 127,000 bus passes issued to our residents, of which 119,000 are because of age, and 8,000 on account of disability. The concessionary fares scheme in North Yorkshire costs the County Council almost £8m per year.

Cyber highway – broadband

More details of the latest stage of Superfast North Yorkshire’s (SFNY) expansion of high quality broadband have been announced. The contract for Phase 3, awarded to BT, was signed in February and a list of most of the villages and communities included in this latest stage was published in early May.

A remarkable feature of Phase 3 is that 85% of the connections will be Fibre to the Premise (FTTP), and provide subscribers with some of the fastest speeds anywhere in the country (up to 330Mbps). While urban centres like Harrogate, Knaresborough and Ripon already enjoy good digital connectivity, many nearby villages do not yet have superfast (>30Mbps) broadband. Phase 3 will be a game changer for around 40 communities close to those urban centres including: (near Harrogate) Bishop Thornton, Darley, Fellbeck, Glasshouses, Hampsthwaite, Kettlesing, Killinghall, Lofthouse, Summerbridge, Wormald Green; (near Knaresborough) Allerton Park, Brearton, Scotton; (near Ripon) Copt Hewick, Grantley, Hutton Conyers, Littlethorpe. A number of North Yorkshire villages are also listed under York as the nearest urban centre, including: Kirk Hammerton, Tockwith.

To find out if your property is due for upgrade under Phase 3, visit www.superfastnorthyorkshire.com.

Subscriber take-up of superfast broadband facilitated by SFNY under phases 1 and 2, which connected up 166,000 premises, has now exceeded 50%, the highest of any rural authority.

Thanks to a special contractual arrangement, this higher than anticipated take up means public funding is being returned, which is helping NYCC to re-invest in digital infrastructure. High quality broadband has become an essential utility for businesses and households alike, with so many aspects of daily life now accessible via the internet, and by the end of Phase 3 in 2021 we expect over 95% of all properties in our county to be provided.