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Dales villagers take on might of government Quango

[Tuesday 21 February 2006]

Residents from three Dales villages are pitting themselves against the might of a government Quango today as a public inquiry into the Highways Agency's revocation orders for bypasses around their communities gets underway in Gargrave.

The Agency, which has responsibility for Britain's network of major roads and motorways, is determined to rescind the orders as part of its de-trunking process for the A65 - which will see responsibility for the road's maintenance pass to North Yorkshire County Council.

Residents of Gargrave, Long Preston and Hellifield have campaigned for a bypass around their villages since before the Second World War, and were hopeful that alterations to the A65 would take place when in the early 1990's the process reached the point of going to tender.

Their hopes were dashed in 1997 with the election of a Labour government that was intent on pushing more of us off the roads and on to public transport.

The revocation orders are being opposed by North Yorkshire County Council, Craven District Council, Long Preston Parish Council, and the Long Preston Residents Association (LoPRA).

LoPRA believes that the orders remaining in force offers the only hope of finding a solution to the problems they face daily from the extremely heavy volume of traffic using the A65.

"Locals are astonished that the Highways Agency, who conceived and then supported the case for the original bypass at the 1992 public inquiry, are now attempting to dismantle their plans which will also effectively allow them to detrunk the A65, void past heavy expenditure and pass the buck on to North Yorkshire County Council", said Heather Thomas-Smith, chairman of LoPRA.

Adding: "Residents are constantly calling for action to deal with A65 problems and at the Planning for Real Event in 2003, which helped form the Village Plan, 88 per cent of those who voted on the A65 bypass voted yes.

"We have objected to the revocation orders outright, particularly because there has been absolutely no sign of a substantive alternative offered".

The inquiry continues throughout today and tomorrow at Gargrave School.

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