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Mayoral candidate makes compensation pledge over A59 closure

Tuesday, 16 April 2024 15:23

By Thomas Barrett, Local Democracy Reporter

Independent candidate Keith Tordoff says if he becomes mayor of North Yorkshire he will aim to pay compensation to businesses affected by the A59 closure.

The road between Skipton and Harrogate has been shut since February due to a landslip. It’s led to a lengthy diversion through Ilkley and Otley with the road not likely to reopen until June.

Last month the Local Democracy Reporting Service visited Dalesway Cafe near Skipton with owner Kate Bailey describing the current period as “heartbreaking” for her business.

The closure has led to a £2,000 decrease in earnings, forced her to cut the opening hours and led to four members of staff being let go.

Other businesses that have been affected include Mackenzie’s Farm Shop in Blubberhouses, Billy Bob’s Parlour near Halton East and The Devonshire Arms in Bolton Abbey.

However, this month North Yorkshire Council poured cold water on any hopes of businesses receiving compensation and instead said it would offer “general business advice” to those affected.

Mr Tordoff, who is a former police detective and previously owned The Oldest Sweet Shop In The World in Pateley Bridge, told the LDRS that he plans to create a mayoral fund which businesses could apply for compensation from.

He said wealthy people, businesses and charities would pay into this pot of money that would be used to invest in the region.

It would be separate from the £18m a year the mayor will get from the government and he hopes to raise £5m for the fund in his first year.

Mr Tordoff said he has already emailed Ms Bailey about her plight. He said compensation would likely be a “nominal” one-off amount but would show “that somebody actually does care”.

He said: “My heart goes out to the business affected. It’s been an absolute disgrace. There are huge detours and the signage is terrible. There are so many issues. If I am elected, I’ll be fighting on their behalf.

“I will access funding and try and support them. There’s no guarantee, but as a small business owner myself it’s appalling what they’ve put up with.”

Alternatively, Mr Tordoff said he could also launch a crowdfunding campaign where individuals could pledge money that would be redistributed to affected businesses.

He accused North Yorkshire Council of “incompetence” regarding the closure.

Regarding compensation, North Yorkshire Council’s corporate director of environment, Karl Battersby said earlier this month: “We appreciate that the closure of the A59 is having a significant impact on businesses, commuters and residents, and we sincerely apologise for this disruption.

“There is no legal requirement under the Highways Act to pay compensation as a result of disruption caused by highways works, but we are doing all we can to complete the repair as quickly and safely as possible.

“In the meantime, we are speaking to individual local businesses to see if they would like general business advice. We will keep the public updated as work progresses.”

The York and North Yorkshire mayoral election will take place on May 2. The candidates are as follows:

  • Conservatives: Keane Duncan
  • Labour: David Skaith
  • Liberal Democrats: Felicity Cunliffe-Lister.
  • Green Party: Kevin Foster
  • Independent: Keith Tordoff
  • Independent: Paul Haslam

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