A LONG-SERVING councillor said he fears overgrown grass verges on a busy diversion route could cause a serious accident.

Conservative councillor Bill Stenson has called on Darlington Borough Council to trim the grass verges lining Staindrop Road, near Darlington, as he believes they are making it hard for motorists and cyclists to see oncoming traffic.

The road is on the main diversion route for motorists travelling towards Barnard Castle following the temporary closure of the A67 after it was damaged by a landslip.

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It will remain closed until April next year while the authority and Northumbrian Water repair the road.

Cllr Stenson, who was first elected in 1965, said he feared the increased volume of traffic and poor visibility could lead to a serious accident.

He has written to David Winstanley, the council’s assistant director of transport, to ask for the verges to be cut back after he was approached by a number of concerned residents.

In his letter he said: “If they are not cut back there will be a serious accident.

“There are a lot of cyclists using this road and the volume of traffic has now grown since the landslip at High Coniscliffe.

“If we cut the verges back it will give more room for lorries to pass each other, but with the verges encroaching into the road there is no room for wagons to pass.

“I have travelled up this road myself and I have seen the dangers.

“Vehicles are not going slowly and I fear there will be a serious accident.”

He also raised concerns that the verges make it difficult for motorists to see cyclists.

He added: “A lot of cyclists use the road so it will be safer for them if they are cut back too.

"I would hate to read in The Northern Echo that a cyclist has been hit.

“I am sure that prevention is better than a cure.”

A spokeswoman for Darlington Borough Council said: “We have received the letter from Councillor Stenson this morning.

“The issues he has raised will be investigated by our officers and any necessary action taken.”

Staindrop Road will be used as the main diversion route while engineers carry out major structural repairs to the embankment along a 400-metre stretch of the A67 between Piercebridge and High Coniscliffe.

Northumbrian Water engineers also have to divert pipes out of the unstable section of road.

The council won £2.4million of Government funding to help pay for the works.