Anger at '˜irresponsible' closure of key Dales tourist route

PLANS to close one of the main routes between Upper Wharfedale and Wensleydale at the height of tourist season could 'devastate' the local economy and damage the reputation of the Dales, it has been claimed.

The plans have been criticised

North Yorkshire County Council plan to close the B6160 Bishopdale Lane, which links Buckden to Aysgarth and is a key route to the market town of Hawes, next week for eight days for flood alleviation works. A further closure will take place in October.

But Colin Speakman, the vice chair of Friend of DalesBus, which uses the B road for three of its popular routes, and the leader of Richmondshire Council, Coun Yvonne Peacock, say the work has been poorly timed and should be moved to a quieter period when the route is not so much in demand from tourists and residents alike.

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Mr Speakman said closing the route, one of the main access routes from West Yorkshire and the south to Wensleydale, during the summer holidays when thousands of visitors are in the area is “an act of irresponsibility and arrogance”.

Three DalesBuses services will be forced to terminate at Buckden, while “scores” of other coach and minibus operators will be faced with long diversions, he said.

Mr Speakman said: “Many drivers will give up and go to different areas – and perhaps never come again. It will damage the image and reputation of the Dales and cost the Dales economy.

“This is not emergency work. There is no rational reason why this work should not have been done outside the peak visitor season, for example in June or October.”

Mr Speakman said DalesBus only found out about the work on Wednesday, and was initially led to believe that the route would be closed for three weeks.

However, North Yorkshire County Council has confirmed the first phase is set to begin on Tuesday July 12 and take place on weekdays until Wednesday July 20, between 8am and 4pm only.

It said bus operators were told about the closure on June 30. The work will involve installing new kerbing, gullies and drainage, with a second phase for resurfacing of the road in October.

Mr Speakman said: “While it seems less damaging than we initially feared, and we’re grateful it will be open at weekend, the closure will still affect one of our key services for both tourists and residents alike.”

Coun Peacock said she would seek assurances from the authority that diversionary routes would be signposted properly and should allow for a two-way flow of traffic to ease congestion.

She added said: “It seems absolutely ridiculous to close the road at the height of summer.”

A North Yorkshire County Council spokesperson said: “As the work is to address flooding, it needs to be carried out at a time when the weather is most likely to be favourable as it could not be done while there is flooding on the road.

“A diversion route via Gayle and Bainbridge will be in place during the road closure.”