‘Ludicrous’ - Motorists told to avoid busy Harrogate junction

NADV 1310299AM2 Marks and Spencers site on Leeds Road. (1310299AM2)
NADV 1310299AM2 Marks and Spencers site on Leeds Road. (1310299AM2)

Advice to avoid the junction of Leeds Road and Hookstone Road has been fiercely criticised as ‘ludicrous’ after Marks and Spencer’s contractors urged motorists to find alternative routes.

Lane closures and excavation works at the busy junction have plunged the area into chaos, with traffic queuing for miles at peak times.

Last week a baby was born in a car on Hookstone Road after her parents got stuck in a traffic jam on the way to hospital.

Now contractors,St James Securities, are asking motorists to avoid the area and prepare for further delays until the Christmas rush.

Brian Dunsby, chief executive of Harrogate Chamber of Trade and Commerce, has said he is furious with the prolonged traffic obstructions.

“It is ludicrous to ask people to avoid the area, it is just not possible, that’s the trouble, there aren’t any alternative routes.

“People can’t get to work, deliveries can’t get to businesses, and buses can’t get through.”

Nigel Eggleston, marketing director for Transdev, said the 36 bus service had been severely affected by the work to build a new Marks and Spencer food store at the old Nidd Vale motors site.

“It is of great concern to us and our passengers. We are seeing delays of 15 or 20 minutes on that route, which can have a knock-on effect on other bus routes in the town.

“The delays are to a great extent out of our control, it is up to NYCC to work with contractors and ensure they aren’t having more than their fair share of the roads and impacting on traffic.”

Mr Eggleton said he hadn’t been given a timescale of the works and was concerned about how long the junction would remain in chaos.

“We cannot divert our buses to avoid the area,” he added.

County Coun David Simister (Ukip, Bilton and Nidd Gorge ward) is concerned about the length of time the route will be impacted.

He said: “The council have told me that Yorkshire Water and BT and Virgin Media are all also needing to carry out works on the site. As soon as one leaves, the other will move in and it will carry on until Christmas, if not beyond.

“They have made an absolute mess of the roads. Yesterday I got stuck in traffic backed up to the Prince of Wales roundabout from 3.30pm.

“Next week when the schools are back, it’s going to be shocking.”

St James Securities Limited’s construction director Dan Murray said: “We recognise that at certain times of the day this work will cause traffic disruption and we appeal to drivers who can use another route to do so. Unfortunately there is no other way to carry out the work and delays are to be expected.”

A spokesperson for North Yorkshire County Council said it was inevitable that the works would impact road users.

He said: “Without these highway works, the new major M&S food store will not open.”

He added that work at the site had been impacted by the discovery of unexpected apparatus underground.

Mr Dunsby said he was unhappy with the county council’s control of the situation and suggested that permissions for roadworks should be dealt with at a more local level.

“We call upon the highways engineers to spend much more time on site in Harrogate witnessing the problems and supervising the various utilities contractors more closely to minimise delays

“If they cannot do so, perhaps we should ask Harrogate Borough Council to take back the responsibility for managing our own highways?”