York Council: Monk Stray Will Not Be Used for Camping During Tour de France
10:08pm 27th May 2014
York Council has confirmed Monk Stray will not be used as a campsite during the Tour de France and the authority is helping caravanners and campers make alternative arrangements.
It comes after the Caravan Club exclusively told Minster FM last week that it was pulling out of running the three sites at Monk Stray, Rowntree Park and the Designer Outlet because of "local opposition" at the three sites. Further negotiations between the council and Caravan Club came to an end today without an agreement.
The council is now phoning people who had booked to use Monk Stray during the Tour and is helping them make alternative arrangements. Campers will be offered the chance to move on to the site at Rowntree Park, while caravanners are being helped to find spaces at caravan sites in the area. Although the authority is calling those who booked, it says people with reservations can call York Council on 01904 551550 to discuss their booking.
Director of Communities and Neighbourhoods at York Council Sally Burns told Minster FM:
"We've just had news today that the Caravan Club have decided to pull out of the arrangements, so what we are doing at the moment is looking at the bookings that we've received on all the sites. We are looking to consolidate. So we're looking to probably go to Millennium Bridge, which has been the most popular one."
"What we will be doing as well is helping people who are caravanners to move on to other sites, so we will be contacting them over the next few days and making arrangements for them to go somewhere equally suitable. We want to make sure we welcome them to the city and they have a good time."
The announcement was made at a public meeting tonight with concerned residents who live near Monk Stray.
NEIGHBOURS FEARS OVER MONK STRAY FUTURE USE
The meeting at Christ Church on Stockton Lane, which was organised by York Council, was packed and saw many people raise their concerns about the future use of Monk Stray.
In particular, there were fears about York Council's planning application for an eight metre long fence and pad in the ground. The council says the new gate is needed to meet safety regulations and to help get vehicles off the Stray after the event.
But many locals are worried about the council using the gate to make it easier to hold future events on Monk Stray. Vicky Peart lives nearby and told Minster FM:
"I love the Tour de France. I didn't object to the plans there. But my concern is that everything they [York Council] do, smacks to me, of doing things in the future, And as someone in the meeting said, how important it is to keep the character of the stray exactly as it is. Why have eight metre gates ripping up the fence? For future or for now? I'm afraid I'm cynical."
Sally Burns from York Council can't guarantee Monk Stray won't be used for future events stating:
"Obviously it's a beautiful location, it's been used previously for community events and we would still want to have it as an option for the future. The good thing about tonight is there are a lot of people here who want to be part of a Friends [of Monk Stray] group. I think the thing to do is set up that group and then let's discuss the future and the things that are dear to them about the stray."
Hugh James also lives nearby and is concerned about the plans for Monk Stray, he told Minster FM:
"No plans appear to have been put into place. A number of things that the council officers have said in previous meetings have now been found to be mistruths. They avoid all the questions concerning safety and the actual problems that will be related to the Tour de France. And I can't understand, and this is my main thing, is why when they made the licence application, they made certain statements which they now admit were false and yet that doesn't affect the licence. There is a great deal of frustration within the residents of Heworth, and it's mainly down to ineptitude on the part of the council."
Kevin Foster lives on Monk Stray and is concerned by how close the event will be to his house. Minster FM asked him if he felt reassured by the council's answers to questions, Kevin said:
"That's a very difficult question to answer. I don't feel positive about anything walking out of here tonight but let's hope that the council do take on board all of the points put here tonight."
Sally Burns from York Council says the authority is keen to work with the local community, and she will look at alternatives to the eight metre gates which were proposed. These include replacing a section of fence with temporary gates or removing and replanting a hedge, rather than having a permanent gate.
"There's been some really good suggestions. I'm very happy to look at them. Obviously, we've got a [planning] application in at the moment but I'm very happy to look at some the comments we've had this evening."
However, in the meeting council officials said they would not withdraw the planning application for the eight metre gate, which is due to be heard next month. Officials were also unable to provide a cost estimate of the gate, saying that would be decided after the planning meeting.
COUNCILLOR CALLS FOR ENQUIRY INTO EVENTS MANAGEMENT
The opposition councillor who represents the Monk Stray area, Lib Dem Nigel Ayre, says the campsite changes just five weeks before the Tour de France comes to York must lead to an enquiry into how the council deals with major events.
Nigel Ayre gave this interview to Minster FM's Kevin Larkin:
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