WHITBY Swing Bridge could be closed to traffic for a trial period in a bid to ease congestion in the popular seaside town.

If the proposal is approved, the bridge would be open for pedestrians only between 10.30am and 4pm daily for a trial period starting in April 2021.

The plan comes as the Whitby Town Deal Board has secured £400,000 of fast-track Government funding for the trial, which would be implemented by North Yorkshire County Council.

Cllr Joe Plant, who represents Whitby Streonshalh, said: “With daytime visitor numbers increasing year on year, we have regularly had to close the Swing Bridge to traffic.

“In 2019, congestion during summer weekends and special events forced us to act, and the issue has been magnified due to social distancing concerns during the pandemic.

"I have raised my concerns and I want us all to work together sensibly to find a permanent solution.”

Barry Harland, who is Vice Chair of the Board, said: “The Town Deal bid poses a major opportunity to secure Government money to invest in Whitby. This a small part of that overall proposal but one that, if successful, could deliver a better solution for the town, local people and visitors.

“We welcome the County Council’s ongoing engagement with people and businesses to get the best solution and ultimately see if this trial could work for the long-term.”

The County Council is asking for the views of residents, businesses and other interested parties.

Any traffic restrictions would be introduced under an Experimental Traffic Order which allows the public to comment during the first six months and allows some flexibility in the restrictions as the trial is taking place.

County Councillor Don Mackenzie, executive member for access, said: “We understand the importance of allowing traffic over the Swing Bridge, connecting the east and west sides of Whitby, but this has to be balanced with the needs of pedestrians at peak times of the day.

“We must stress that this is a trial and, if granted, it would be reviewed at the end of 2021 before any decision was made to make it permanent.

"We would like to hear the views of residents, town centre retailers and businesses from both sides of the bridge, as well as the tourism and hospitality sectors.”

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