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Consultation on a suspension of sections of Harrogate Stray Act 1985 for the Tour de France 2014

29th November 2013

West Park Stray, Harrogate

Harrogate is hosting the finish of Stage 1 of the 2014 Tour de France, and Stage 2 goes past the Empress and New Park roundabouts. One of the reasons Harrogate was chosen for a stage finish, was the large area of open parkland available near the town centre, Harrogate Stray. However, Harrogate Stray Act 1985 prevents the race organisers using The Stray in the way they want to. 

The Stray is owned by the Duchy of Lancaster, but managed by Harrogate Borough Council according to the provisions of the Stray Act. For the Tour de France, the race organisers want to section off 19.5 hectares of the 80-hectare park for up to sixteen days. The closed sections would be used for Tour vehicles, spectator stands, a big screen, a helicopter landing area, and more.

The Stray Act limits the use of The Stray to 3.5 hectares, and for a maximum of 5 weeks. (Although the use for the race is only to last sixteen days, there are other events during the year which must be accommodated). There are also limits to the construction of temporary roads and footpaths, and to helicopter landings; and The Stray must be open at all times to all inhabitants of the Borough for recreation, according to the Act. Harrogate Borough Council is now seeking to resolve the problem.

The Council is using a legal provision of the Localism Act 2011, which gives local authorities a 'general power of competence.' This means that councils are allowed to do anything that any other person can do, with certain restrictions. Where a provision of a statute prevents a local authority from exercising this power, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (currently Eric Pickles) can make an Order to disapply that provision, including for a temporary period. The Order must be approved by Parliament. 

The Secretary of State has to consult, before making the Order. He is consulting the council (who are in favour, because they were the ones who asked him to make the Order), the Duchy of Lancaster, the Stray Defence Association, local businesses, the local voluntary sector, and members of the public. The email address for any comments is collaborate@communities.gsi.gov.uk, or they can be sent by post to Ruth Miller, Dept for Communities & Local Government, Zone 3/J1 Eland House, Bressenden Place, London, SW1E 5DU.

The proposed Order (to be called the Harrogate Stray Act 1985 (Amendment) Order 2014) would disapply certain sections of the Stray Act from 23rd June to 8th July 2014, in the three areas shown on this map:

Areas of proposed suspension of Harrogate Stray Act

The consultation document is interesting, because it gives considerable detail about the proposed use of The Stray. The uses include:

  • a technical zone for 130 trucks and temporary living accommodation for technicians setting up the infrastructure for the race
  • two grandstands for 80 people each. (Given that they are only for 160 people in total, we assume they must be only for bigwigs)
  • a big screen for spectators
  • merchandising kiosks
  • 300 toilets
  • catering
  • a spectators' area for Stage 2. (This must be the area of High Harrogate/Granby shown on the map as Area 3 above)
  • temporary roads and car parking
  • an assembly point for the 180 advertising vehicles preceding the race
  • emergency vehicles area
  • helicopter landing area

The closing date for comments is 7th January 2014.