Businesses welcome maintenance to keep key route safe

Teams working on Sutton Bank rockface

Business leaders have welcomed the close collaboration with highways officers following a visit to view essential maintenance of a vital east-west route.

The annual week-long scheme concluded yesterday (17 September) on Sutton Bank on the A170 between Helmsley and Thirsk to ensure that it remains structurally sound.

During the works, highways officers met with Carolyn Frank, development manager for the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in North Yorkshire, and Lee Harris-Hamer, FSB area volunteer lead and owner of the White Horse Cleaning Ltd in Thirsk.

Executive member for highways and transport, Cllr Keane Duncan, said: “The site visit was a great opportunity to show business leaders the extent of the works so they can appreciate how necessary they are to stop any rock falls which can subsequently lead to longer, unplanned closures.

“The A170 is a key route for residents, commuters and day-trippers so it’s important we maintain it for the future.

“A reliable road network is vital to a thriving visitor and retail economy. We thank businesses for their understanding and support.”

Carolyn Frank said: “The opportunity for our members to understand when closures are happening up front, and have plenty of information before, during and after planned works, and a clear point of contact to ask questions, helps them plan better with customers and suppliers and is important to off-set disruption.

"We appreciate the open dialogue and collaboration growing between businesses and the council.

“Whilst there's never a good time for closures, road improvements are always welcomed, and the new North Yorkshire Council offers an opportunity to work more closely with local businesses on the bigger picture issues for the area including highways."

A site visit took place on the bank to see contractors assessing the slope using harnesses. They then talked through the works schedule and reviewed the plans.

Lee Harris-Hamer said: "It was a real eye opener to see how busy and complex the week of closure is, and how much investment is being made to Sutton Bank to keep traffic moving the rest of the year.

“As a local business owner out on the road every day, well maintained roads are high on my list of priorities for the council to work on."

The extensive works are carried out on the rockface to prevent rock falls. This year they had to relocate a winter weather station camera that was hit by a vehicle in March and repair the crash barrier.

As part of a network across the county, the camera, which has been out of action since the collision, is an integral part of delivering our winter service effectively.

A signed diversion is in place during the closure and operatives work hard to maintain access to homes on Sutton Bank where possible.

Cllr Alyson Baker, who represents Hillside and Raskelf on North Yorkshire Council, added: “We know the annual closure is an inconvenience for many, but unfortunately there is never a good time to carry out such works.

“Our highways officers do all they can to ensure the project is carried out as efficiently and quickly as possible.

“It’s important for the public to appreciate the scale of the works and there’s no better way than seeing them in action.”