LORRY COUNT: Phil Hunt and Anne Plattern, of Barnard Castle HGV Action Group, collect evidence                          TM pic
LORRY COUNT: Phil Hunt and Anne Plattern, of Barnard Castle HGV Action Group, collect evidence TM pic

MEMBERS of an action group say vehicles which mount the pavement to navigate the Market Cross are breaking a 184-year-old law.

Cllr Judi Sutherland, a member of Barnard Castle HGV action group which is campaigning to reduce the number of lorries passing through the town, says under Section 72 of the Highways Act 1835, vehicles should not drive over the pavement.

Insp Ed Turner, from Barnard Castle Police, confirmed the law is still active but the most recent convictions relate to cyclists riding on pavements. The law states: “If any person shall wilfully ride upon any footpath or causeway by the side of any road made or set apart for the use or accommodation of foot passengers; or shall wilfully lead or drive any horse, ass, sheep, mule, swine, or cattle or carriage of any description, or any truck or sledge, upon any such footpath or causeway; or shall tether any horse, ass, mule, swine, or cattle, on any highway, so as to suffer or permit the tethered animal to be thereon... every person so offending in any of the cases aforesaid shall for each and every such offence forfeit and pay any sum not exceeding(level 2 on the standard scale), over and above the damages occasioned thereby.

The action group is hoping the information will strengthen its case to persuade highways officials to adopt a permit system for HGVs in Barnard Castle, similar to one in Kirkby Stephen.

Cllr Sutherland said: “I saw half a dozen trucks and a bus drive over the pavement while I was having my hair cut.

“The law is still in force, but hardly ever used. It could prevent cyclists from riding on the pavement or motorists from parking with two wheels up. I thought I would check whether driving over the pavement was a traffic offence. Technically it is but it’s not often prosecuted.”

Unofficial survey of HGVs in Barney

A CAMPAIGN group organised an unofficial traffic survey as part of efforts to reduce the number of lorries passing through Barnard Castle.

The survey was organised by Barnard Castle HGV Action Group and took place from 7am to 7pm on Monday, April 29. The group is concerned about the number of HGVs using the town as a rat run and also about the possible impact of future work on the A66.

One member of the group, Anne Plattern, said: “We are taking details of all HGVs with three or more axles travelling both ways along Newgate and around the Market Cross. Details being collected are the operator’s name, vehicle registration, number of axles, direction of travel and time.”

Photographic and video evidence was also collected.

She added: “By counting lorries with three axels or more it ensures only lorries with a gross weight of more than 18 tonnes are recorded.”

In the first three hours of the survey, 37 vehicles had been recorded of which nearly 40 per cent belonged to Hymas, which transports aggregates and agricultural produce.

The survey revealed there had been no foreign lorries during this period.

Group member Phil Hunt said: “When we have finished today we will collate the results. These will then be presented as part of the consultation process with Highways England and Durham County Council. This consultation is part of the further proposed dualling of the A66.”

Mr Hunt added: “We hope to discuss possible improvements to traffic management in the town prior to commencement of the work on the A66.”

Call for united group across dale to solve a ‘worsening problem’

THE problem of HGVs is not confined to Barnard Castle and the dale’s villages need to work together to provide a solution, a meeting heard.

Representatives from Barnard Castle HGV Action Group and Caldwell Parish Meeting attended Staindrop Parish Council last week.

The meeting heard how proposals to ban HGVs from Barnard Castle could move traffic problems elsewhere, making it worse for other communities in the dale.

Concerns were raised that if Barnard Castle was to get a relief road, Staindrop would become a rat run for lorries heading to and from the A66.

Sarah Halpin, on behalf of Caldwell residents, said: “This is part of a much wider problem. Caldwell is suffering similar problems with an increase in HGV traffic through the village, some of which is attributed to the gypsum recycling plant at Winston but some is attributed to cutting the corner to cross the Tees at Winston Bridge.

“The problem gets worse when the A66 is closed and drivers look for alternative routes.”

The effects of closures on the trans-Pennine route are felt across a wide area, the meeting heard. Following a recent incident on the A66, Cllr Darrel Chapman said: “Wagons were still diverting though Staindrop at midnight.”

Phil Hunt, of Barnard Castle HGV Action Group, said: “North Yorkshire County Council at least tried to manage the traffic issues during the A66 widening scheme, Durham County Council were not interested.”

A survey carried out by the county council in Barnard Castle in February showed that ten per cent of the traffic crossing Abbey Bridge carried on to West Auckland. Dave Wafer, Durham County Council strategic traffic manager, has previously said the data “supports previous findings that the majority of lorries in the town centre are serving the local area”.

Dr Judi Sutherland, also of the action group, told the meeting: “Durham County Council remain sceptical that the A688 is being used to cut the corner between West Auckland and the A66.”

Dr Sutherland said: “The route of the possible relief road around Barnard Castle has been earmarked in the Durham Plan but there is not expected to be any money available for the scheme until 2035 at the earliest.

She added: “A medium-term solution might be the introduction of a scheme permit similar to the one adopted in Kirkby Stephen.”

Staindrop Parish Council chairman Cllr David Reed said: “Using the current route no operators are breaking the law but it is evident problems exist across Teesdale and they are only going to get worse.”

He added: “Durham County Council should find the solutions to the problem – perhaps we should set up a more widely based pressure group to make a more united case.”

Cllr Chapman agreed and said he believed the way forward was parish councils working together.