County Council criticised after close-call crash on Kirkgate in Knaresborough

At the moment the only gritting provision on Kirkgate is a self-use salt bin.At the moment the only gritting provision on Kirkgate is a self-use salt bin.
At the moment the only gritting provision on Kirkgate is a self-use salt bin.
North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) has been criticised after a car crashed in icy conditions on Kirkgate in Knaresborough.

The council have refused to grit the steep hill despite pleas from residents and councillors saying the road is ‘dangerous’ in winter.

Kirkgate resident, Mike Atkinson, heard the crash from his house and tweeted to NYCC that he was ‘baffled’ why they wouldn’t grit the road.

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Mr Atkinson said: “Late on Sunday night probably about midnight we heard a loud noise from outside our house - we live right down the bottom of Kirkgate.

“We had a look and a car had skidded and crashed into the side of the station, there was ice on the road. Kirkgate is a steep road and it’s one of the towns main roads leading to the station so it is used by a lot by residents.

“I find it very frustrating because it seems to be so clear that there is a need for the gritting.

“It puts drivers in jeopardy it puts pedestrians in jeopardy and it puts homeowners in jeopardy. There are houses very near to the streets going all the way down a car could lose control at any point.”

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Currently Kirkgate is listed as a ‘priority three’ route by NYCC which it states is not gritted unless conditions persist for more than 72 hours.

But Mike feels that isn’t sufficient.

He said: “My feeling is that NYCC should make it priority two which they state is a road which generally provides access to local communities. The main road for the station surely comes under that category and the gradient should also be taken into consideration.”

Although witnesses say no-one was seriously hurt in the incident, for Councillor Bill Hoult (Lib) it could have been a lot worse.

Since October last year when the council were setting the gritting routes for 2016, Coun Hoult has been working with other councillors to make a case for getting Kirkgate’s priority level raised.

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Coun Hoult said: “It wasn’t a serious accident but it could have been.

“When they were setting the gritting routes there was quite considerable concern because the thought that if a vehicle slipped down Kirkgate, which is a very steep road, it could hit the railway gates and cause damage.

“God forbid if it hit whilst a train was passing.

“We pleaded with the council and they sent us a letter back saying the executive had considered it and decided it doesn’t warrant being included in the gritting routes.”

But NYCC claim the request to increase the priority level of Kirkgate was denied on a matter of consistency.

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A spokesman for NYCC said: “The request was declined because it would have been inconsistent with our approach elsewhere locally and across the county.

“The council does not have the resources to grit every road, so motorists should drive to the prevailing conditions.”

The council also highlighted that a self-use grit bin had been put in place for Kirkgate residents to use.

But residents and Coun Hoult agreed that a salt bin makes little difference.

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Coun Hoult said: “It’s a farcical situation and extremely disappointing.

“We haven’t asked for every single road to be gritted or anything like that, we made a very strong case because of the risk of it going down and hitting the railway gates.

“Grit beans are okay for people who live in cul-de-sacs where there might be a hill and they can use it to grit the hill and get up, but on a road like that which is used regularly by people who don’t live there, it’s a really pathetic response to quite a serious issue.”

But while the gritting routes might be already be set for this year, Coun Hoult is keen to maintain pressure on the council to increase the priority of Kirkgate.

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“We must keep pressing each year. It just shows you don’t need a bad winter for this to happen.

“In some ways a mild winter like this one lulls people into a bit of complacency and they perhaps don’t drive as careful.

“Where there is capacity for it to freeze we need to be doing something about it.”