LIFTING a weight restriction on a bridge that divides two villages may lead to fatal accidents, according to a parish council chairman.
Councillor Peter Kirby, chairman of Sutton-on-Derwent Parish Council, says East Riding Council must continue to enforce the 7.5 tonne maximum limit on Sutton Bridge between Sutton-on-Derwent and Elvington, or build a footbridge so pedestrians can cross safely.
The limit was applied to the grade II listed bridge in September 2010 after an HGV had smashed into the side of the bridge months earlier, causing extensive damage and putting it out of action as repair work took place.
But, at an overview and scrutiny committee meeting in July last year, members decided that the weight restriction will not be renewed when it expires in March.
Coun Kirby said: “Pedestrians, cyclists, horse riders and wheelchair users risk their lives daily crossing this bridge.
“The East Riding of Yorkshire Council has told us there is no justification in keeping the temporary weight limit because there have been no fatalities. In their words “There is no blood on the road”.
“What kind of people are we dealing with who demand the life of innocent victims in order to prove a need? If HGVs are permitted to resume crossing this bridge, God forbid, but it may not be long before the requirements of the ERYC are met.
“We, in Sutton upon Derwent and our neighbours in Elvington, will continue to fight for a safe passage for vulnerable people over this bridge. A pedestrian foot bridge, as at Stamford Bridge will suffice, failing that, the HGV ban must stay.”
Since being imposed, some residents in nearby villages have complained that the weight restriction has led to more heavy goods vehicles travelling through their village, causing a rise in noise pollution and increasing the danger in their community.
But Coun Kirby said there is nothing to prove that more heavy goods vehicles are travelling through other villages and avoiding the B1228 through Sutton-on-Derwent.
He said: “The B1228 route through Sutton upon Derwent has not been closed to HGV traffic during the course of the temporary weight limit. HGV traffic still comes through the village and is diverted to reach the A1079 at Wilberfoss.
“Therefore, there’s no reason why any extra HGVs should be generated through Bubwith or Holme on Spalding Moor.
“As for residents of Wheldrake complaining that HGVs are coming through their village because of this ban - two minutes looking at a road map will expose this myth for the nonsense it is.
“The only traffic surveys carried out by the East Riding of Yorkshire Council during the course of the temporary weight ban clearly show that, of the HGV traffic using the four-road Bubwith crossroads, almost 50 per cent used the B1228 north, to or from the direction of Sutton upon Derwent. This clearly demonstrates that HGVs have continued to use the B1228 throughout the course of the ban.”
Coun Kirby added that some HGV vehicles have been ignoring the weight restriction and driving over the bridge.
“Many of the HGV vehicles do take the proper diversion but quite a few are going over the bridge,” he said.
ERYC has responded to Coun Kirby’s comments and Nigel Leighton, director of environment and neighbourhood services, told the Pocklington Post: “The council sought the experimental traffic regulation order (TRO) for the weight limit at Sutton Bridge to allow for essential maintenance works to be carried out following an incident involving an HGV causing structural damage in January 2010.
“Following an extensive consultation with the parish councils affected by the weight limit, with seven responding and five supporting the lifting of the limit, a report was submitted to the environment and regeneration overview and scrutiny committee in July 2011, with members agreeing that the limit be lifted.
“The council is aware of residents’ concerns regarding safety and has reduced the speed limit on the approach to the bridge to 30mph from 60mph and has also improved the road markings to allow HGVs to take a better position when manoeuvring over the bridge.
“The council will be installing CCTV on the bridge to reclaim any future costs for damage caused by vehicles to the structure, and will also be closely monitoring HGV usage of the bridge through additional vehicle counts.”