MP staggered at £36,000 bill for two road signs to town

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The community of Masham in North Yorkshire could face a £36,000 bill for the installation of two brown signs directing traffic off the A1 to the small town, leaving the area’s MP “staggered”.

Earlier this year, after a two-year campaign, the Transport Minister gave the go-ahead for signs to be put on the route after recognising the economic importance of the signs to the town.

He was unable to fund the work but asked the Highways Agency to work with the community.

The Highways Agency has said the signs will cost at least £36,000.

Julian Smith, Tory MP for Skipton and Ripon, said: “I have been staggered by the sums of money being quoted for the installation of two brown signs and very disappointed by the lack of appreciation by the Highways Agency of the devastating economic impact that not having signage is having on Masham. Organisations who spend taxpayers’ money, such as the Highways Agency, must ensure they cover their costs, but they also have a responsibility to support economic growth wherever possible and I do not believe they are currently taking that into consideration.

“In my communications with the Highways Agency I have seen no understanding of the size of the businesses that these signs will benefit. These are, by and large, small, exceptionally hard working micro businesses. Some have lost 25 per cent of their business in recent years and believe the lack of signs off the A1 is to blame for a large proportion of that.”

Brown signs southbound directing traffic to Masham off the A1(M) at junction 51, Leeming Bar, have already been agreed and will be installed at no cost to the community.

However, Masham residents want two signs directing northbound traffic for Masham to leave the A1(M) at junction 50, Baldersby.

Parish Councillor Flo Grainger, who has been leading the campaign in Masham, said they were being treated unfairly. “It is questionable that any attraction already signed has even paid a fraction of such a ridiculous fee.”