A councillor has called for two companies contracting by Yorkshire Water to handle leaks to be banned from repairs in the Upper Dales following a road closure “fiasco” this week.
Diversions were put in place on Tuesday after a leak was discovered in The Holme, in Hawes.
The road was closed to allow for the work to take place, however motorists from the west only learnt of the closure when they drove into the market place.
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This meant the town was clogged with vehicles, including large lorries, trying to turn around while the weekly market was taking place.
The closure stayed in place throughout the day until 7pm.
The incident has been described as a “fiasco” by Upper Dales county councillor John Blackie who said that as well as placing inadequate signage, he understood the road could have been reopened two hours earlier.
Cllr Blackie said he received dozens of phone calls from residents and businesses in the town who had been affected, including farmers who had been stuck in traffic and missed their slot to sell their sheep at Hawes Auction Mart.
The councillor said the incident was just the latest in a sequence of problems caused in the Upper Dales by contractors Morrison Utility Services and Express Traffic Management which are used by Yorkshire Water to fix leaks and close roads.
He has called on the county council to ban the two contractors from carrying out further work in the area.
He said: “Most of the complaints I received were about the totally inadequate signage of the road closure which meant all traffic had to reach the road closure in the centre of the market place in Hawes, only to find out the road was closed and then had to turn round.
“This was impossible for large lorries so several became trapped in the market place and beyond for a while until some parked cars were moved so they could turn around.”
He added: “It completely spoilt the street market in Hawes with conflicts between queuing and reversing traffic competing with pedestrians strolling along the front of the market stalls.
“I ask that NYCC Highways specify that Morrisons and Express are not used as contractors here in the Upper Dales.
“We have no confidence in them, no trust in them, and they cause far more problems than they solve.”
In his response, Dave Bowe, North Yorkshire County Council corporate director, said he would check but suspected the council did not have powers to ban the contractors from the area unless they lost their operating licence.
He added: “It is purely a matter that we have to take up with the utility directly.
“Of course that may result in Yorkshire Water reviewing their contract with the two companies.”
Joe Hands, from Yorkshire Water, said: “We were made aware of a burst pipe in Hawes with a team sent to the site as quickly as possible.
“Due to the size of the burst, we had to implement traffic management to close the road for health and safety reasons.
“The pipe has been repaired and the road was reopened last night.
“We’re very sorry for the inconvenience and disruption this has caused local residents in Hawes and I want to assure them that we will be reviewing our response to make sure we take on board feedback we have received from the local community.”