25 March 2018

Please see the letter sent by our Parliamentary Candidate and Press Officer, Shan Oakes:

Dear Jean,

I am delighted that the Harrogate Advertiser has recruited a Local Democracy Reporter -  Well done that paper!   I guess Stuart Minting’s ‘maiden’ article was the one in your last edition,  ‘Authority accused of ‘ignoring’ members’ which reported on the issue of the ‘relief’ road across  the Nidd Gorge, as discussed at  the meeting of the North Yorkshire Harrogate Area Committee on 15th March.  I also attended that meeting and was shocked. Officers had persuaded councillors to reverse their decision of the last Area meeting (which had agreed not to include a  ‘relief’ road in the public consultation on congestion)!  They  said that if NYCC don’t include the relief road option,  the consultation will be seen as incomplete : civil servants will apply a ‘benefit cost ratio’  measure.  So in my speech I asked the committee to stand up for what  ‘benefit’ meant in this context.  

It is now clear that a ‘relief’ road would NOT relieve congestion in the towns, so including it in the consultation is ridiculous, but will mean that many people who do not know this will tick ‘yes’,  even though it is the locals who know the consequences…. So now the awareness campaign must continue with renewed vigour.   

The officer simply bulldozed the last democratic decision of the elected members whilst denying the accusation made by the leader of the council that he was ignoring them!  It’s quite clear that the officers want a ‘relief’ road because they cannot envisage alternative measures. I suspect this is due to lack of appropriate experience and/or imagination, and it seems that most current councillors are not assertive or committed enough to deal with this kind of manipulation by officers.   And Cllr Mackenzie was absent from the meeting - no surprise, since absence is a ploy often used to avoid flack when there is controversy:  I saw it at the incinerator decision as well.   I do hope the HA will  ask  each political party where they stand  on this issue.  However, our elected representatives should be judged on their voting record, not just on what they say.  This information  should be made clear to the communities which elect them,  so the local newspaper has a major role to play .   Congratulations  on recruiting a Local Democracy Reporter.



Shan Oakes

Media Officer for Harrogate and District Green Party

25 Tentergate Rd.,  Knaresborough,  HG5 9BG





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