Highways chiefs have been criticised for not replacing two brown tourist destination signs for Richmond on the newly upgraded A1 motorway.
For many years the signs at Scotch Corner highlighted the proximity of the historic Georgian market town and the facilities on offer there.
With work on the new road and junction almost complete, Highways England have told Richmondshire District Council that it does not intend to replace the signs.
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Richmond MP Rishi Sunak has written to Highways England saying that its decision is “very unreasonable” particularly as it had not consulted the local authority about the issue.
He wrote: “Tourism is vital for the local economy and I would have expected Highways England to consult fully with the local authority before taking a decision which stands to have a negative impact on the area.”
Further, Mr Sunak was critical of Highways England asking the district council to go through a formal application process to have the signs re-installed which would be likely to incur significant costs and bureaucracy.
“Surely,” he said, “it would be far simpler for all parties to mutually agree to restore the signs in the same location they were before the upgrade project.”
Mr Sunak said he had noted that throughout the upgrade works the contractors had maintained temporary tourism signs for the town. Only now with the road due to open shortly had they disappeared.
“Richmond is a very special town, widely hailed for the quality of its Georgian townscape, and that should be recognised on the national motorway network. The signs should be re-instated.”
Mr Sunak’s intervention was welcomed by Cllr Yvonne Peacock, leader of Richmondshire District Council.
“Visitors are so important to the economy of Richmond,” she said.
“We need people to know what a attractive town it is, to draw them in from the new road and help sustain local businesses.
“What many people will struggle to understand is why Richmond was deemed sufficiently important as a tourism destination to justify signs but now, all of a sudden, it it isn’t. It just doesn’t make sense.”
Earlier this year, Mr Sunak, Cllr Peacock and County Cllr Carl Les, leader of North Yorkshire County Council, worked together to secure brown tourism signs for Wensleydale at the new A1 Leeming Bar junction. The new signs were unveiled last month.
A spokesperson for Highways England said: “Richmond is signed off the A1 at Scotch Corner.
While carrying out work on the A1 Leeming to Barton improvement scheme Highways England removed the smaller brown tourism signs from two locations as they no longer comply with current sign regulations.
“We will continue to work with Richmond Town Council to process their application to have the signs re-instated.”