A59 Kex Gill closure: ‘Enough is Enough’

The A59 at Kex Gill has been closed since January 5 and it is still not known when it will reopen. (1601122AM2)
The A59 at Kex Gill has been closed since January 5 and it is still not known when it will reopen. (1601122AM2)

Residents and businesses who have been affected by the closure of the A59 at Kex Gill say “enough is enough” and are demanding the Goverment takes urgent action to prevent further misery.

North Yorkshire County Council was forced to shut the major route on January 5 after recent heavy rains caused substantial cracks on the slope and the authority has continued to constantly monitor and measure the hillside.

As a result motorists, including hauliers transporting goods between Harrogate and Skipton, have faced diversions of up to 10 miles, with many taking shortcuts on rural roads, causing additional delays, highway damage and safety concerns.

Businesses have also taken a hit due to the loss of passing trade, residents have been left feeling cut-off as a result of roads being closed and diversions through Otley and Illkley are causing congestion in the towns.

And with no indication on how long the route is likely to be closed, frustration is continuing to grow.

Fewston Parish Councillor Howard Barker, who attended a meeting of Washburn Parish Council which was called to discuss the closure on Monday, said: “The diversions are sending everybody off in different directions and a big concern is the council has shut off some of the smaller roads which connects one side of Skipton to Harrogate. Lorries can’t use them but there could be things put in place so locals and smaller vehicles can still use them.

“We appreciate it’s out of the council’s hands as it’s down to instability, but if we could all work together, I’m sure there must be ways to get people back into the area.”

Residents are planning to launch a campaign calling on the government to come up with an urgent solution.

Mr Barker said: “This road has been shut three times because of landslips. At one time it was shut for three months.

“Enough is enough. We put up with it the first time it was closed in 2000 and here we are 16 years later in the same boat.”

County Coun John Fort (Con, Pateley Bridge) has agreed to set-up a public meeting to discuss the issue in the coming weeks.

He said: “We have got a difficulty with the A59 and it’s already part of the county council scheme to deal with the problems at Kex Gill. We are hoping we are going to be given some funding to get a bypass. I have been campaigning for this for some years.”

On Tuesday it emerged that a substantial flow of water had been at the top of the area of instability and gotechnical engineers had been carrying our further studies with a view to diverting the water.

County Coun Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Highways, said: “We are doing everything we can to find out how to stabilise the hillside at Kex Gill in order to reopen the road. We do not underestimate the significant inconvenience this A59 closure presents to road users in the North Yorkshire, Leeds and Bradford areas but safety on the highway must be our greatest priority.”