CONCERNS over pollution in the heart of a North Yorkshire market town look set to persist after a major trial to tackle the worst offending vehicles was condemned as a failure.

A meeting of North Yorkshire County Council’s Thirsk and Malton Constituency Committee heard more than a year into an 18-month experiment banning HGVs from Norton Level Crossing large numbers of lorries continued to emit fumes at Butcher Corner crossroads.

The heavily congested crossroads has been under surveillance since 2003 when high levels of nitrogen dioxide were identified as a cause for concern.

Malton councillor Lindsay Burr said the experiment had led to residents suffering from the traffic, and in particular HGVs, being pushed onto unsuitable roads, creating rat-runs and hazards.

She said: “Literally, the HGV’s wing mirrors are on the pavement where the children are and it’s just not safe, so we have to really think about how we are going to manage this if the committee decides to carry on with the HGV ban.”

After pressing for information about the effect the HGV ban has had on cutting pollution, Norton councillor Keane Duncan said he suspected it would not have made a significant difference. He said: “I am very concerned about this HGV ban. I don’t think it’s achieved what it intended to achieve on air quality and not only that it’s had a massive knock-on effect, not only on Highfield Road, but in villages in a ten-mile radius around the town.”

The meeting was told the HGV ban had been found to be having a detrimental impact on Settrington, Scagglethorpe. and Harton and the Howsham and Brasenthwaite bridges. The meeting heard the trial had also created extra traffic jams as HGVs struggled to move around parked cars on narrow roads.

Cllr Duncan said: “I think we can put in measures to push traffic along the roads that we would like them to, but that won’t solve the fundamental issue that there is no restriction on HGVs travelling through Butcher Corner.”

He said the trial had a major design flaw in that it would be impossible to keep HGVs out of the area where improved air quality was wanted “because there is no other way in which they can travel around Malton and Norton given the fact we haven’t got this perfect bypass with access roads around the town”.

He added: “This HGV ban should come to an end. It’s been a failed experiment and it’s had quite monumental consequences.”

The meeting was told a decision would have to be taken over whether to continue the HGV ban before the end of the 18-month trial in August and a three-week public consultation exercise would begin on May 3.