Harrogate BID has said it is disappointed in a council decision to pedestrianise James Street after it says more than two thirds of businesses on the street are against its full pedestrianisation.
In a strongly worded statement, the BID’s acting chair, Sara Ferguson, said she felt disappointed that Harrogate Borough Council appeared to have already made a decision on the measure without speaking to “the very businesses this will effect”.
She added that the town’s masterplan, which was written up by the borough council in 2016 and includes full pedestrianisation of James Street, “tinkered at the edges” and that the town “deserves a really ambitious plan”.
The BID was contacted by the borough council to ask for its views on the measure at the same time it had put a request into North Yorkshire County Council.
The authority said the temporary pedestrianisation of the street was needed to help “safety and social distancing measures”.
Since then, Cllr Don Mackenzie, executive county councillor for access, has backed a temporary closure of the street which could be in place as early as next month.
But, the BID has said, while there was no overwhelming single consensus of opinion, a third of businesses are against any pedestrianisation of the street, another were in favour and a third supported partial pedestrianisation.
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Sara Ferguson, acting chair of the Harrogate BID, said:
“We are disappointed that without first speaking to the very businesses this will affect, Harrogate Borough Council appears to have already made its decision, namely that of pedestrianising the entire length of James Street.
“They asked us for our views, but before we responded to them, we wanted to speak to our members along the street. In addition to calling in to shops, we also emailed them too, which revealed a three-way split.
“Based on these responses, and for what it’s worth, we have now given this feedback to both Harrogate Borough Council and North Yorkshire County Council. We trust that before any long-term decision is made about James Street’s future, there is full and proper consultation.”
It comes as cones which blocked off parking spaces along James Street for social distancing were no longer in place this morning.
A spokesman for North Yorkshire County Council said its officers have not removed the cones. He added that the council will put them back in place.