Stray, Woodlands and Hookstone by-election preview: Gilly Charters, Green Party
Apr 3, 2024
Gilly Charters, Green Party candidate.

Green Party candidate for the Stray, Woodlands and Hookstone by-election, Gilly Charters, points to the controversial planning approval of Wetherby Road’s Leon drive-thru, soon-to-be Starbucks, as an example of where things have gone wrong in the division.

Critics say the site, which opened as a Leon in 2022 after the government overturned the council’s decision to refuse it, has increased congestion, contributed to rubbish being tossed out of car windows and has taken business away from cafes in town.

It’s a car-led development that Ms Charters wants to see less of. She favours improving active travel infrastructure so it’s safer and more environmentally friendly to get around whilst improving air quality.

She says streets like Oatlands Drive and Hookstone Road in Harrogate should become a more pleasant place where people can cycle to work, go to school, or meet friends without fearing they’ll be knocked over by a car.

Then there are the potholes, which can make riding your bike in Harrogate akin to navigating a ski slalom.

She said:

“People feel happier with active transport. The potholes are just ludicrous too and it means some people don’t want to be on bikes. It’s a real concern. I’d like to see much slower speeds outside schools. Children and elderly people deserve to be looked after.”

Ms Charters has lived in Harrogate since 1981, including 20 years on Hookstone Drive, but now lives just outside the division.

She was a teacher at King James’s School in Knaresborough for 25 years and now works part-time supporting boys who are struggling with mainstream education.

She’s been spirited by the success of fellow Green Party councillors in North Yorkshire including Arnold Warneken in Ouseburn. He’s been a strong voice in favour of active travel and green policies in Harrogate and the county since he was elected in 2022.

Ms Charters believes that it shows that the Greens are now a trusted electoral force in North Yorkshire.

With the council in the early stages of formulating its Local Plan that will map out where housebuilding can take place across Harrogate for the next few decades, Ms Charters hopes to encourage greener housebuilding, which she said has been a missed opportunity in previous years.

She said:

“People throughout Harrogate are aware of the amount of house building going on. Really good insulation, solar panels and heat pumps have been missed time and time again.

“If we want fuel security, we have to look at these things. If we let builders build on green land, they have to do their bit.”

The by-election will take place on Thursday, April 11. For more information visit the council’s website.

A full list of candidates is below:

  • Conservative – John Ennis.
  • Green – Gilly Charters.
  • Labour – Geoff Foxall.
  • Liberal Democrat – Andrew Timothy.
  • Reform – John Swales.

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