A £5M fund to relieve bottlenecks to economic development in Hambleton district has been unveiled.

Hambleton District Council leader Councillor Mark Robson said an annual saving of £500,000 had come from management restructuring at the authority, and that the money would be ploughed into its ten-year economic strategy.

He said it was hoped the funding would help kick start some of the projects by the end of the year.

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Ideas being considered include a road bridge over the railway in north Northallerton, to ease congestion around the level crossing by Brompton Beck.

The level crossing, from which queues regularly stretch back to the town centre, has long been seen as a factor in putting some firms off from locating in Northallerton.

Other schemes could include a new car park in Bedale and building an improved road bridge outside of the Dalton industrial estate near Thirsk, to overcome flooding issues and improve access from the A168.

Businesses on the industrial estate have told the council they are keen to expand their operating hours, but are prevented from doing so due to rules over access.

The council will also look to using the funds to boost the redevelopment of central Northallerton, following the closure of the prison and Rural Payments Agency.

Cllr Robson said the fund would help attract new businesses to the area, help others expand and reduce unemployment at a time when neighbouring councils were having to cut services.

He added that none of the management savings had come from compulsory redundancies.

He said: “We will be developing a plan not just to promote the district, but for each town – Northallerton, Thirsk, Bedale, Easingwold and Stokesley.

“By boosting businesses we will also look to generate more house building and leisure needs.

“This fund is a very exciting development for Hambleton. As a business-friendly council we are determined to build strong relationships with our businesses and ensure our market towns and rural areas thrive.”

The funding announcement comes eight months after the council commissioned an economic study of the district to establish what was needed to support the economic future of the area.

The council will develop its economic strategy over the next few months and will consult with businesses and residents on its priorities.