Plea to help log grief caused by HGV diversions

THEY’RE COMING: HGVs will be diverted through Barnard Castle for four weekends

BARNARD Castle is bracing itself for HGVs being diverted through the town centre, and residents are being asked to help “bombard” chiefs with evidence of damage and inconvenience. The A66 between Scotch Corner and Rokeby is to close for roadworks on four weekends this month and next. HGVs will be diverted over Abbey Bridge, through the town and on to the A688.

Cars and smaller vehicles will be re-routed over County Bridge. Members of Barnard Castle Town Council claim disruption and impact on monuments like The Market Cross and Abbey Bridge are inevitable. They are asking residents to document incidents of congestion, damage and the inconvenience of traffic jams.

People are being asked to send their reports to the town council via email or social media using the hashtag #barneyblitz, or through direct messages on the town council’s Facebook page. Councillors will collate the information and send it to Durham County Council in a bid to stop lorries being re-routed through town in the future. Cllr Ian Kirkbride said: “We want to bombard the highways authority and Durham County Council with what we know is a regular feature of closures of the A66.

“Are we going to wait until the Abbey Bridge drops into the river? A lot of traffic will be coming over the Abbey Bridge but there aren’t any cameras, so we have no other way of getting evidence other than collating people’s experiences. We need to engage the population.

We need a record of what happens over those four weekends.” The idea came just days after the grade II-listed Abbey Bridge was struck by a large vehicle – the latest in a long line of smashes.

Cllr Kirkbride, who was speaking at last week’s resources committee meeting, said the problem of lorries hitting historic structures in Barnard Castle had been a bugbear for decades. Cllr Frank Harrison said that the town council should also enlist the help of the area’s MP, Dehenna Davison.

“This has been going on for years and years and it’s about time it’s sorted,” he added. Cllr John Blissett replied: “When I first came here in 1981 we were fighting to get a bypass and we still are.” He said the case for a relief road should also be made to the central government.

The diversions through town will take place on the following weekends – January 25 and 26, February 1 and 2, February 8 and 9, and February 15 and 16. The A66 will be completely closed from the Fridays at 9pm to the Mondays at 6am. A spokesman for Highways England said the road surface has deteriorated and workmen need to “undertake some deep patch works”.

The agency added: “The layout of the road means that we cannot do this safely without completely closing the road.

“Although we recognise that there will be people affected and disturbed by this closure, evidence shows us that planning this work using weekend closures will cause the least disruption and inconvenience.

We have worked directly with residents and businesses most closely affected to agree the best way we can help them.”