New racehorse-friendly road surface discussed for Middleham

Middleham Market Place.

Councillor Honor Byford told Middleham Town Council at its meeting on October 31 that she had resigned from her employment with North Yorkshire County Council’s highways team so that she could focus on highways matters in Middleham.

She said she was looking into the feasibility of a project in conjunction with universities to develop an improved road surface for horse traffic and she would discuss this with the racehorse trainers. This, she added, would be a longer-term project.

At the council’s meeting in September councillors expressed frustration at the outcome of a recent meeting with highways department especially as there were concerns about recent incidents of racehorses slipping on tarmac.

There was a consensus at the October meeting that a collective approach with the trainers should be adopted to raise these concerns with the county council and possibly to involve the local MP.

Donations box stolen. – PC Sutcliffe reported that among the recent incidents in the town was the theft of the donations box from St Mary and St Alkelda’s Church.

He said it was intended to re-start police surgeries in Middleham and that all PCSOs and police will be equipped with body-worn cameras.

He added that the police were continuing to keep a watch on the use of illegal drugs and drink-driving in the Dales in conjunction with prevention teams.

At the previous meeting the council had been informed that significant progress had been made with random drug testing within the racing industry with the involvement of the trainers.

Car parking. – The council was told by a resident that car parking in Middleham had, he believed, worsened in the past 10 years partly due to the amount of street furniture.

He felt that the interests of residents were not being properly considered and was especially concerned about those of the households fronting the lower market.

In response councillors advised that the conveyance of the manorial lands, including the town wastes which were common land, permitted raising of commercial fees and tolls on the market place.

They intended to act equitably towards all residents and users of the wastes, some of which were council land whereas others were private.  Similar issues were faced by other local towns balancing the interests of residents, visitors and businesses when there was the potential to generate income.

Consideration could be given to reviewing space allocations although this was potentially complex and previous attempts had been unsuccessful, the council stated.

Pinker’s Pond. – It was reported that the area used for car parking at Pinker’s Pond was becoming badly rutted. It was agreed that the council did not want to over-develop that parking area but some improvement close to the edge of the highway would be appropriate. This will be discussed with Middleham Trainers’ Association.

Dog training. – There was concern that using the playing fields for dog training could lead to fouling of the area. It was felt, however, that the level of picking up was generally high and there were acknowledged community benefits to dog walking.

It would also be difficult to enforce a ban given the lack of alternative dog walking areas. It was, therefore, decided to leave arrangements as they were.

Public toilets. – The council welcomed the district council’s announcement that the toilets would be refurbished before next year’s holiday season. It was reported that there had been no complaints about the condition of the toilets during the previous season.

Burial ground. – Following the approval given at the September meeting emails seeking tender submissions for the drilling contract were sent to various member companies of the British Drilling Association.

The clerk was seeking an indicative cost for redirecting sewerage pipes which currently took up much of the new burial ground.

Key Centre. – The council was informed that Cllr Byford and Dr Sweeting had undertaken an overall review of progress since the management structure changes and were asking councillors to be involved in detailed reviews of functional areas in preparation for the final report.

Councillor retires. –  As John Kirkbride had resigned from the town council there is a vacancy for a councillor. The district council has been informed and notices have been posted to give electors an opportunity to request an election. If an election is not called a casual vacancy will be advertised.

The vext meeting is at the Key Centre at 7pm on Wednesday, January 23 2019.