FLASH floods caused misery in the region yesterday as homes were flooded and roads were left impassable.

Across the region, roads were closed and warning signs were put in place as motorists faced treacherous driving conditions.

The worst affected areas were in the Yorkshire Dales and on the border between North Yorkshire and County Durham.

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In North Yorkshire, fire crews were called to protect homes in Fremington, near Reeth, with sandbags.

Further flooding was reported in Askrigg, near Hawes, where a fire service spokesman said the village’s sewage works was also at risk.

Further flooding was reported in Manfield, near Darlington, while in Stokesley, a car caught fire after a motorist drove into floodwater.

In Gilling West, near Richmond, villagers hit out at the parish council’s handling of an £8,000 flood defence grant.

The money was given by Richmondshire District Council nearly two years ago, but has still not been spent.

The grant followed heavy rainfall in summer 2007, when some people saw 3ft of water rush through their homes twice in one week.

Yesterday, the road through the village became submerged in 2ft of water, with people working together to create sandbag defences for their homes.

One villager, who asked not to be named, said: “Half that money was for defences and the other half was to be divided up between the households affected.

“But two years on, we have not seen a penny.

“People are asking why the parish council has not spent the money.”

Brian Metcalfe, chairman of Gilling West Parish Council, said: “The funding is earmarked for flood defences and is totally separate from operational accounts.

“To divide £4,000 between the affected households would have been an administrative nightmare, so the parish council decided to devote the whole sum to flood defences – it was agreed that prevention is better than cure.

“We are making real progress – but it is a very slow process.”

A spokesman for the Highways Agency said: “We’ve had hundreds of requests for sandbags and warning signs and just about every road in the county has been affected at some point.”

A forecaster for Meteo- Group UK said last night that the rain was expected to ease by morning, with a possibility of sleet on higher ground.

■ Last night, there were 30 flood warnings in place across the region. The rivers Swale, Ure, Ouse and Nidd were at risk of bursting their banks, the Environment Agency said.

Temperatures across Britain are expected to fall as low as -5C (23F) over the next two days, before the possibility of snow in the North.