Richmondshire councillors criticise traffic management after petrol station fire

The petrol station has been demolished. Photo: Sarah Willis.

Two Richmond district councillors have criticised the management of traffic after a fire which destroyed a petrol station in the town.

The Harvest Energy fuel station was destroyed in a blaze last month.

Following the fire, Victoria Road which runs past the site was closed for two weeks.

While councillors Clive World and Philip Wicks praised the response of the emergency services which tackled the blaze, they also raised concerns about the measures put in place to manage traffic following the incident.

Cllr Wicks said: “The disastrous fire at the Harvest Energy garage in Richmond could have had more serious consequences if it had not been for the quick-thinking actions of the staff and the swift response of the emergency services.

“Contrast this with the out-of-touch reaction of North Yorkshire County Council’s Highways Department.

“Clearly it was necessary to close Victoria Road, but traffic chaos ensued because the diversion signs were unhelpful, to say the least.

“Access to the town’s main car park in Nuns Close was made difficult, although possible for those with local knowledge.

“Whilst Victoria Road reopened for the Bank Holiday weekend, access to this important car park was still blocked from the main road through town, but two weeks later there has been no attempt to signpost the alternative route.

“Tourism is key to Richmond’s economy, but this failure to understand the importance of car parking does not bode well for the future.”

Cllr World added: “In its recent proposals for a unitary authority, North Yorkshire County Council declared that they would be ‘driven by a new dynamic localism that boosts grassroots level decision-making’.

“Judging by its recent response to the aftermath of this awful fire, something clearly needs to change, but I am not holding my breath.

“Their platitudes mean very little to most local people when their actions suggest that they just don’t care.”

In response, Don Mackenzie, the county council’s executive member for access, said it was disappointing that Cllr Wicks “sought political advantage out of a very unfortunate occurrence”.

He added: “The facts of the matter are that the county council’s highways engineers responded promptly to a difficult situation, which was changing as investigations into the fire-damaged property progressed.

“The demolition company had discovered signs of damage to the gable ends of adjoining buildings, which meant that Hurgill Road and footpath needed to remain closed for longer than originally anticipated.

“Work to make the area safe is continuing during which time there will be regular vehicle movements to and from the site. For those reasons Hurgill Road will remain closed, and the attached diversionary route is in operation.

“We now expect the road and footpath to be re-opened on Wednesday 9 September. As always, safety of the general public remains the county council’s top priority.”

The councillors have asked anyone concerned or affected by these issues should write to them c/o Richmondshire District Council, Mercury House, Station Road, Richmond DL10 4JX or on cllr.c.world@richmondshire.gov.uk and cllr.p.wicks@richmondshire.gov.uk

2 Comments

  1. Interestingly neither of these Councillors contacted NYCC or myself about this issue. They both have all my telephone and email details! Is it just the Liberal Democrats doing what the do best? Bleating after the event to make it seem like they are concerned but when they could have intervened they just couldn’t be bothered!

    I did respond to those who contacted me and obtained directional diversions as soon as we became aware of the problem.

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