COMMUNITY leaders have spoken of their dismay after highways chiefs opted against making changes to a road layout to reduce the number of motorists using a village as a rat run.
The Highways Agency and North Yorkshire County Council agreed to alter their plans for a local access road following meetings with villagers from Tunstall, near Catterick Garrison.
Residents were worried that the upgrade of the A1 from Leeming to Barton would increase the number of motorists using their village as a shortcut to the garrison town.
In response, officials agreed to insert a dog-leg section of road and a t-junction on the local access road near Catterick Village.
It was hoped that the measures would reduce the attractiveness of using the unclassified road through Tunstall for motorists coming off the A1, or visiting Marne Barracks.
However, the changes have now been rejected and the original road layout, including a straight section of road leading on to Tunstall Road, will be built.
Councillor Carl Les, North Yorkshire county councillor, who has been working with residents to reduce the impact of the upgrade, said he had been advised the change had been rejected by Highways Agency lawyers because it differed with the original plans.
He added: “I'm disappointed that a legal issue appears to be going to disrupt a common sense approach which has the support of all the community.
“I hope that something can be done to change that legal opinion. We will be involving our local MP as soon as we can.”
Martin Richardson, vice-chair of Tunstall Parish Council, added: “Hopefully it's not too late but they've already started marking out the road so it doesn't look good.
“Apparently the Highways Agency lawyers have said that the changes that they proposed would have been illegal.
“They now have to go back to the original public inquiry decision. It looks like the Highways Agency will have to renege on their promise and Tunstall will end up with a road which nobody wants.”
In response, the Highways Agency and North Yorkshire County Council said in a joint statement that the road layout was agreed in 2008 as part of the secretary of state’s original recommendations for the scheme, and confirmed last year when orders were made for the local access road between Leeming and Catterick.
The statement added: “Following representations from the local community, the Highways Agency agreed to work positively and collaboratively with North Yorkshire County Council to help them design and plan a suitable modification to the proposed local route around Tunstall.
“However, having explored all possible options, and following advice from our respective legal teams, it was reluctantly accepted that North Yorkshire County Council would not be able to progress these amendments within the current A1 construction timetable.”
The statement added that the county council and Highways Agency would continue to work together to consider alternative measures to address the concerns of the residents of Tunstall.