A MOVE to introduce a tough measure to combat a long-standing issue of lorry drivers using an area as “an open toilet” has been approved for one of North Yorkshire’s leading centres of industry.

Hambleton District Council’s cabinet passed the introduction of its first Public Space Protection Order for a six-month trial after hearing residents and traders at Leeming Bar, near Bedale, had suffered from lorry drivers’ anti-social behaviour for years.

If the clampdown is considered a success, the authority will also introduce the same order – banning drivers from staying in their vehicles overnight – at Thirsk Industrial Estate.

Late evening spot checks have shown up to 40 vehicles are parked on each estate or surrounding area on most days.

Councillor Bridget Fortune, the authority’s leisure boss, said: “The antisocial behaviour is having a detrimental effect on the quality of life of people. We have had multi-agency discussions and have never been able to identify a long-term solution.

“We want a better quality of life, we do not want open toilets as a result of lorry parking.”

The committee heard several councillors dismiss claims by lorry drivers’ groups that there were no suitable alternative places to park HGVs overnight.

Cllr Fortune added: “We have got to take a stand here. People say ‘where are they going to go?’. Lorry drivers are paid a fee to park on an approved lorry park. If they choose not to use it then the companies that they belong to need to be made aware they are not compliant.”

The orders would see the officers empowered to fine anyone staying overnight in vehicles on the estate up to £100. However, members expressed concerns that the order could simply have the effect of pushing lorry drivers to park overnight on roads just outside the banned area.

Thirsk councillor Dave Elders said: “It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to work out that vehicles dispersed from Thirsk – because they have nowhere else in the vicinity to go – they will end up at the auction mart and Sowerby Gateway and possibly Dalton industrial estates.”

Cllr John Noone added: “One worry that some of the residents have is that it is going to disperse these people elsewhere, but we will have to wait and see. This is a good step forward. When it comes to the review if we are still having a lot of problems with it we could look at clamping. That would certainly stop them in their tracks and make them think.”

After the meeting, chairman of the Safer Hambleton Hub Councillor Carl Les welcomed the move. He said: “We don’t want to be unfair to lorry drivers, but if people are going to park up on the sides of streets and on the industrial estate then we would expect them to behave in a reasonable fashion and that hasn’t been happening.”