Richmondshire District Council is set to consider a plan to close a lorry park plagued by antisocial behaviour, despite mounting concerns over a shortage of overnight places for HGVs to stop in the region and its suggested replacement offering fewer spaces.
The council’s corporate board, which is chaired by Councillor Angie Dale, will next week consider a proposal to sell the large site off Catterick Road which has been valued at £85,000, to Colburn Town Council for just £7,000, on the proviso it remains used for a community facility.
The town council has said the site’s final use will be for the long-term benefit of local residents and a range of options, ranging from a skateboard park or bowling green to youth project accommodation, are being considered.
Signalling her determination to close the lorry park earlier this year, Cllr Dale said the town council had been inundated with complaints about the lorry park and surrounding area being used as an open toilet.
Similar complaints made at Leeming Bar and Thirsk have led the Road Haulage Association and other industry bodies to call for more rather than fewer facilities for drivers in North Yorkshire, saying they have nowhere to park overnight.
The announcement of the proposal to sell the lorry park was also met with incredulity by some residents, leading to claims on social media that there is “a dire shortage of public toilets everywhere from the A1 to the national park”.
One resident wrote: “Decent, clean and sanitary public facilities are the sign of a civilised society and we clearly are not.”
A brief officer’s report to the corporate board states the lorry park would remain open until the planned £53m Roadchef motorway service area on the Catterick village side of the A1 at junction 52 was opened “with its specific provision for HGV parking”.
However, the officer’s report does not state what size the lorry park is, give an approximate figure of how many lorry spaces would be lost in Colburn or reveal how many parking spaces are proposed at the service station.
Nevertheless, at a council meeting earlier this year Cllr Dale said a survey she had conducted had found more than 50 lorries parked there, while planning documents submitted by Roadchef state it is planning for 40 HGVs along with one for abnormal loads.
The report states: “Colburn Lorry Park has operated for a number of years with the initial intent of providing parking for lorry drivers local to the area. The lorry park has become a popular overnight stop off for lorry drivers generally, not just those with a local connection.
“Signage to the lorry park was upgraded approximately three years ago in an attempt to guide lorry drivers to the site and reduce overnight HGV parking in other parts of the community, particularly on nearby roads serving the business parks.”
Ahead of the meeting, the district council’s former leader, Councillor Yvonne Peacock, said a thorough investigation of the options available to the district council, such as building toilet facilities at the lorry park, needed to be undertaken.
She said: “I’m completely against selling the lorry park. We are set to get rid of a facility without having properly considered the consequences of doing so on the surrounding communities or having properly examined how it could be improved.”