Villagers protest at 'rat run' road

RESIDENTS are being driven to despair with up to 5,000 vehicles a day thundering through a clutch of North Yorkshire villages as drivers head for the A1.

With traffic volumes on the B6164 between Wetherby and Knaresborough expected to rise by more than 100 per cent, residents are joining forces to push North Yorkshire County Council into immediate action.

Parish Councils from the three most affected villages Kirk Deighton, North Deighton and Little Ribston, have launched a campaign to get the drivers off their road.

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David Scorah, chairman of Kirk Deighton Parish Council, which has a higher ratio of traffic volumes than nearby Harrogate and Knaresborough, said: "The county council won't commit themselves but we need urgent action on this.

"We hope if we work together on this then something will happen.

"During the morning and evening this is a major commuter route for people coming from Harrogate, Knaresborough and Wetherby, even though it is totally unsuitable.

"It is for four or five hours a day and despite it being a narrow road the drivers all put their foot down.

"There has been a number of accidents and near misses.

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"Somebody crashed into the village church last month and at Little Ribston someone crashed into the gable end of a house just before Christmas.

"I have lived here 20 years and it is now getting worse by the day."

David Franklin, clerk of Little Ribston Parish Council, said: "This is a rat run that goes through the heart of three villages and it needs to be stopped. At morning and evening you cannot move, it is back to back cars coming through the village and at some speed as well.

"It is a lovely picturesque village and this just completely spoils it.

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"The traffic was so heavy a few days ago it took my neighbour 20 minutes to cross the road just to take her dog for a walk.

"We are very unhappy about how the county council are treating us, we need action."

Villagers claim that the problem has become particularly severe with the opening of the new Wetherby services at Junction 46 of the A1 in 2008.

Villagers say cars are increasingly coming off the motorway and using the B6164 as an access road.

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A team of independent consultants also warned in 2008 that any increases in the size of Harrogate and Knaresborough will exacerbate an already major problem for villages along the route.

Residents met with a delegation from North Yorkshire County Council last week to urge it to increase traffic calming measures on the road.

Coun John Savage, who was at the meeting, said: "It was a very hard meeting with some very frank discussions and they are determined to get better safety measures on that road.

"But it is a real rat run along the B6164 and to have traffic levels at such a high volume is unacceptable.

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"It is a major problem affecting the quality of life of the hundreds of residents who live in these villages."

David Bowe, assistant head of highways at North Yorkshire County Council, said: "We are currently developing a sophisticated traffic model to cover the whole county.

"This model, which should be operational by the summer, will allow us to consider future developments and how combinations of development may combine to have notable effects on distant networks.

"We will continue to work with the three parishes mentioned in an effort to reach a common understanding of each others position. I have promised to write to the parishes confirming our position and explain what we can and cannot deliver in the future."