Roads boss heralds local heroes after sliding off snowy road

Councillor Keane Duncan stuck in the snow in Nidderdale. Picture: Keane Duncan.

The councillor responsible for North Yorkshire’s highways left the road in snowy conditions this morning.

Keane Duncan, who is also challenging to become the area’s first elected mayor, hailed residents’ “heroic efforts” to rescue him after his election battlebus got stuck on a snow-covered road.

Councillor Keane Duncan said he had been driving in wintry conditions in one of the most remote areas of the county, in Nidderdale, as part of his ongoing 1,000-stop tour of the county ahead of the May election, when the van he calls Peggy left the road on Thursday morning.

North Yorkshire Council executive member for highways, Coun Duncan, who oversees the county’s gritting crews and a £7m budget to deliver what he describes as “one of the UK’s most comprehensive winter programmes”.

The authority’s fleet includes about 80 vehicles and is supported by about 100 farming contractors, who are deployed to keep the roads clear during more challenging conditions.

However, it is understood the site where Coun Duncan’s vehicle left the road is known locally for not being gritted as it is where two of the council’s highways branches, Hambleton and Harrogate, meet and their gritting lorries turn around.

Speaking after being “pulled to safety” by Lofthouse residents Stephen Ramsden and Ashley Gatecliffe, Coun Duncan said the road did not look like it had been gritted before his van got stuck in mud.

 

Councillor Keane Duncan after being rescued by Stephen Ramsden and Ashley Gatecliffe, right, in Nidderdale. Picture: Keane Duncan.

 

After seeing his plight villagers asked Coun Duncan to take up their case to ensure gritting is more comprehensive in the area.

Coun Duncan said: “Peggy became briefly stuck in the mud between Lofthouse and Fearby during today’s snowy weather.

“Suffering nothing but a bruise, Peggy is back on the road and my tour of the county continues as scheduled.

“Despite Peggy’s unplanned rest, my visit to Lofthouse and the wider Nidderdale area was immensely useful. I was able to speak to residents personally and directly about their concerns.

“This is exactly the purpose of my 1000-stop tour. To show every community matters and that I will represent people in all corners of our vast, rural county – wherever they are and whatever the weather.”

Mr Gatecliffe said he appreciated Coun Duncan taking the time to venture up here to understand the issues being faced by residents first hand.

He added: “This is a treacherous road and we appreciate Keane’s help to get it gritted. This is the proactive and visible representation we want to see from our new mayor.”

However, opposition councillors pointed towards financial cuts by the government to North Yorkshire over the last 13 years, leaving resources limited and the gritting service “prioritised”.

Liberal Democrat group leader Councillor Bryn Griffiths said: “Keane will be very aware of the priority schedule.

“If he can’t follow his own highways advice and drive responsibly, what does that say about his competence to be an effective mayor.”

Councillor Steve Mason added there was “a certain irony” that the executive lead councillor for gritting had come off an ungritted North Yorkshire road.

He said: “Perhaps more focus on his paid role to ensure our roads run smoothly at this time would have been prudent.”

3 Comments

  1. At last he seems to have seen what it’s like out on the roads he’s responsible for.

    Let’s hope he does something about it and not just go back to the office and in to that dream world they all seem to be in.

    • Quite right Fred! He should be improving the network not demonstrating the results of inequality across the areas roads. His “executive” role is always keen to ask drivers to drive with care but he doesn’t even practice what he preaches! Perfect exapmle of why people shouldn’t vote for him.

  2. I agree with councilors Steve Mason and Ben Griffiths he should learn to drive responsibly.

Comments are closed.