York & North Yorkshire

Harrogate's Stray law change bid to run big public events

Harrogate Stray Image copyright PA
Image caption The Harrogate Stray Act 1985 limits events on the open space to 8.5 acres (3.5 hectares) in size

A council is to consult on a change in the law to enable big public events to be hosted on a common in Harrogate.

The law focuses on the Stray, a 200-acre (80 hectares) piece of land that wraps around the town centre.

It is protected by the Harrogate Stray Act 1985, which limits events to 8.5 acres (3.5 hectares) in size.

Harrogate Borough Council is now to apply to parliament to temporarily relax some of the rules for the Tour de Yorkshire cycle race next year.

It did the same for the first stage of the 2014 Tour de France, between Leeds and Harrogate.

An order was made allowing 48 acres (19 hectares) of the land, which is owned by the Duchy of Lancaster, for 198 competitors and hundreds of race vehicles, plus TV trucks, thousands of fans, portable toilets, temporary accommodation and food stalls.

A public consultation which was due to start on Monday 24 October has been delayed for up to three weeks to allow the council to consider the range of questions to be put to the public.

Once under way it will run for 12 weeks.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Harrogate's famous Stray hosted the first stage finish of the 2014 Tour de France on 5 July

The authority said the act was "very restrictive" and was "causing the council regular difficulties" with requests to host "larger and more ambitious" events.

Michael Harrison, deputy leader of the council, said amending the legislation "would have a real benefit for the community".

"Whilst there are many groups who use the land, there is so much more we could do if the act was amended," he said.

"Sporting and healthy living activities, cultural, arts and music events, speciality outdoor markets and activities which raise funds for community benefit, could all be held on the Stray.

"We are not looking to drastically increase the number of events that are held on the land, we are simply wanting to be able to have more flexibility over how the Stray can be used."

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