A TRIAL to make Whitby Swing Bridge traffic-free on weekends and bank holidays is being proposed.

The measure is being suggested to improve safety for residents and visitors ahead of what promises to be a busy summer season.

On Friday the County Council’s executive members for business and environmental services will consider the proposals to prohibit vehicles between 10.30am and 4pm on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holidays all year.

County Councillor Don Mackenzie, executive member for access, said: “With daytime visitor numbers increasing each year and the predicted staycation boom this summer we want to get on the front foot.

"In the last few years we have had to close the Swing Bridge to traffic at incredibly busy times so we see this as a long-term solution.”

The traffic restrictions would be introduced from next month 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.

Although the original proposal was to implement the Swing Bridge restrictions for seven days a week, feedback from the first stage of consultation showed the reduced hours to be the preferred option.

“We would like to thank everybody who shared their views in our initial consultation,” said Cllr Mackenzie.

“We understand the importance of allowing traffic over the Swing Bridge but this has to be balanced with the needs of pedestrians at peak times.

"Please be assured that this is a trial which would be reviewed before any decision was made to make it permanent.”

In 2019 and previous years, congestion during summer weekends and special events resulted in its temporary closure, highlighting the issue of narrow footways.

In 2020, under measures introduced partly to tackle the spread of coronavirus, a multiagency task group made the decision to close the bridge to traffic from 10.30am to 6pm every weekend until October.

Pier Road was also closed to all but essential access every day.

Councillor Joe Plant, who represents Whitby Streonshalh, added: “In recent years the huge number of visitors to the town on summer weekends and events forced us to act, and the issue has been magnified due to social distancing concerns.

“I support the trial as I would like to test the effect of any restrictions in the winter months before making this permanent.

"I’m pleased that the bridge will remain open on weekdays as it is a vital link for buses and taxis.

"I hope we can all work together to find a permanent solution.”

The existing daily March to September restrictions on St Ann's Staith, Pier Road, Haggersgate and Khyber Pass would be extended to year-round and all vehicles would be prohibited on Grape Lane 10:30am to 4pm, year-round.

The experiment could run for a maximum of 18 months and it is intended that it continues into the winter, with the earliest date for review likely to be around December 2021.