Beech Grove Modal Filters
Beech Grove Modal Filters

North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) is abandoning active travel schemes on Otley Road and Beech Grove, despite majority support for them in the most recent consultation.

The decision has been briefed to the local paper by Executive Member for Transport Cllr Keane Duncan, and will be confirmed at a meeting of the BES Executive on Friday 10th February 2023.

Otley Road

NYCC won funding for an Otley Road Cycleway in 2017, and has spent 5 years failing to build it, except a short section between Cold Bath Road and Harlow Moor Road, completed in December 2021. The standards were very poor.

They held a consultation on designs for Phase 2 in October/November 2022; it was the 3rd consultation on Otley Road Cycleway altogether.

Consultation Results

The results have just been published.

They were positive, with more people supporting an Otley Road scheme than opposing it. Of the respondents who expressed a view:

  • 104 were in favour of an Otley Road scheme and
  • 83 were against

That works out as 56% for and 44% against.

Cllr Duncan has characterised the results as follows:

‘None of the options have found significant favour with members of the public, including pedestrians and cyclists – the exact people this infrastructure is supposed to benefit.’

Cllr Keane duncan

That comment is misleading in the extreme.

The consultation was to run until 28th November 2022, but the report reveals that NYCC extended the consultation to 12th December 2022 without telling us, and put on an extra in-person meeting on 5th December 2022 also without telling us.

Why Is NYCC Abandoning Phase 2 of the Otley Road Cycleway?

Since the consultation approved the idea of proceeding with the Otley Road Cycleway, why is NYCC abandoning it?

The financial account for the National Productivity Infrastructure Fund (NPIF), which provided the funding, gives a clue as to a possible reason.

NPIF account
NPIF account

NYCC has spent over £2.2 million on the Otley Road so far, and it only has £565,000 left. Is that enough to build Phase 2? We don’t know, but we have asked the question.

A funding shortfall could explain why NYCC set up a 3rd consultation, in the hope that it would provide an excuse to cancel the whole project.

An Isolated Stretch of Cycleway that’s Close to Useless

Otley Road phases
Otley Road phases

NYCC has built an isolated stretch of cycleway from Cold Bath Road to Harlow Moor Road.

It doesn’t reach Harrogate town centre in the east and it doesn’t reach Cardale Park in the west. It is close to useless on its own.

NYCC says:

‘The link this section provides is between the business district of Cardale Park, Harrogate Grammar School, and the shopping/business area of Cold Bath Road.’

para 2.4 of the report to the executive

That is not true.

Phase 1 does not reach Cardale Park, and it does not take people to the shops and businesses on Cold Bath Road. NYCC’s comments cross the line between over-optimistic bluster and something much worse.

NYCC also says:

‘Phase 2 would have completed a formal link between Cold Bath Road and the town centre, but it should be recognised that these links do pre-exist for cyclists to utilise various side streets for onward journeys to the wider town centre and other services.’

para 7.4 of the report to the executive

That is also fundamentally not true. There is no side street route parallel to Otley Road from Cold Bath Road to Beech Grove.

Beech Grove

NYCC also state that they are not going to make any provision on Beech Grove, and that decision will be made at the 10th February meeting.

The background is that:

The report to the Executive just published reveals the results of the 2021 consultation and the latest Autumn 2022 consultation. Both consultations showed majority support for a Beech Grove scheme.

2021 Consultation

In the 2021 consultation there were 148 messages of support or objection. Neutral comments are excluded here. The 148 messages break down as follows:

  • 98 in support of the modal filters
  • 50 objections

That amounts to 66% for and 34% against.

The report breaks down the support and objections by street:

Responses to 2021 consultation on Beech Grove
Responses to 2021 consultation on Beech Grove
Responses to 2021 consultation on Beech Grove
Responses to 2021 consultation on Beech Grove

Autumn 2022 Consultation

In the Autumn 2022 consultation the responses on Beech Grove were:

  • 99 for a scheme on Beech Grove
  • 86 against
N Yorkshire Abandons Otley Road and Beech Grove Schemes Despite Majority Support

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