A DANGEROUS junction on a village road which claimed the lives of two young people could be altered after calls to make it safer.

Durham County Council is considering banning drivers from making a right turn from the busy A689 dual carriageway on to Stockton Road, in Sedgefield.

Villagers had raised fears that the £7m upgrade of the A689 in 2002 would lead to a serious accident at the junction into the village before the fatal accident occurred in September 2003.

The collision between a motorbike and minibus claimed the lives of motorcyclist James Cooper and pillion passenger Elizabeth Munt, both 20 and from Billingham.

After the double death, Teesside Coroner Michael Sheffield called for the junction to be sealed off.

He called on Durham County Council expressing concern about the number of other accidents on the dual carriageway since alterations were made in 2003.

Sedgefield Town Council also wrote to highways chiefs suggesting a ban on right turns.

If the plans go ahead, drivers will have to drive on to the A177 roundabout and double back before turning left into Sedgefield instead of cutting across two lanes of the road.

The council's highways department has started public consultation about the proposed changes to the road, which will continue for at least three weeks.

An exhibition explaining the options is on display at the village library, in Front Street, and highways officers will discuss the plans with the emergency services.

A county council spokesperson said: "After the consultation period, which will end in mid-to-late February, the council will consider public feedback.

"If the scheme is backed, we will go through the legal process with a view to closure taking place in the summer.

"If there is no agreement the highways department will review its options."

Roy Smeeton, of the village's Road Safety Group, said: "There have been concerns about this road junction for a long time, but to see change people must go along and see the exhibition and express their views to the county council."

The exhibition is on display at the library, which opens Monday, Thursday and Friday, from 9.30am to 12.30pm and 1.30pm to 7pm; Tuesday from 9.30am to 12.30pm and 1.30pm to 5pm, Wednesday from 9.30am to 12.30pm and Saturday from 9am to 1pm.