ICY HIGHWAY: The bend in the road on The Stang is a frequent location for accidents.
ICY HIGHWAY: The bend in the road on The Stang is a frequent location for accidents.

COUNTY bosses have upped their gritting regime after a vehicle transporter came off the Stang Road following heavy snow last week.

Durham County Council has repeatedly denied campaigners’ demands to have the road reclassified to Priority 1 status despite numerous vehicles leaving the road during wintry weather.

In the latest incident a truck laden with cars came off the road and ploughed into a grove of rhododendron bushes shortly after crossing the border from North Yorkshire into County Durham.

The driver emerged from the crash unscathed.

The North Yorkshire stretch of the Stang Road had been gritted, but the County Durham side was untreated.

Durham council officers ordered for the road to be gritted soon after, following a request from emergency services.

Earlier this year campaigners called for a judicial review of a decision taken in August last year not to upgrade the road from its current Priority 2 status.

Clerk of Hope and Scargill parishes Jed Collins, who called for the judicial review, said: “The boundary of Yorkshire and Durham is on the summit of the Stang. We have a situation where you have Tarmac on the Yorkshire side and ice on the Durham side. I struggle to understand why they have been stubborn for 20 years – I have been writing letters to them for that long.

“It is terribly dangerous. The fully loaded transporter is a surreal sight parked in the rhododendrons. It doesn't bear thinking about what would have happened if someone had been going up the hill when it came careering down. We had a freezing rain situation just before Christmas. They hadn’t salted for that and there were a lot of accidents then.”

A Gunnerside resident who travels the road to get to Barnard Castle twice each week said: “I have a four-wheeled drive for a reason. You get to the county boundary and bang, you can’t go any further.

“I have seen several people down in the rhoddy bushes, but nothing quite like this.”

She added that while piles of grit had been place along the side of the road in several places, there were none where the crash took place.

She said: “Where is it on the really bad bits? I have got a shovel but there is no grit here. It is an absolute disgrace.”

County officers said they had changed their policy on Priority 2 routes which would see them being gritted more regularly than in the past. Previously they would only be gritted in the event of prolonged wintry weather.

John Reed, head of technical services at Durham County Council, said: “We grit as many of our roads as we can to keep the county moving and safe during winter weather. Our Priority 1 gritting routes cover 45 per cent of the county’s road network, or more than 1,000 miles, which is one of the highest levels of coverage in the UK. Our Priority 2 gritting routes cover an extra 10 per cent, or over 200 miles which are treated during periods of prolonged severe winter weather.

“We have changed our policy this year to pre-salt Priority 2 routes, such as The Stang, when there is a high confidence forecast of prolonged, severe weather that involves heavy snow. This will assist when we plough the Priority 2 routes by making the snow easier to clear away.

“We are aware that a HGV lorry left the road and we attended and gritted the road following a request from emergency services, both on the Tuesday afternoon and early Wednesday morning. In addition, all of the Priority 2 routes countywide were treated from 4pm last night [Thursday, January 31]. We are regularly replenishing the salt heaps on this road to assist motorists.” Mr Reed said the judicial review is being handled by the legal team.