Whitby town centre chaos after swing bridge left open to road traffic
Whitby descended into “chaos” recently after a breakdown in communication meant the town’s Swing Bridge was unintentionally left open to traffic.
North Yorkshire councillor Joe Plant said the county council’s new in-house highways contractor did not put up signs letting drivers know the bridge was supposed to be closed, leading to much confusion among motorists and pedestrians.
Since Easter, vehicles have been prohibited from using the town’s Swing Bridge between 10.30am and 4pm on Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays as part of a pedestrianisation trial taking place in 2021.
On June 1 NY Highways, a company created by North Yorkshire County Council but operating as a private business, took over responsibility for highway services, including the closure of the bridge, from private sector company Ringway.
Cllr Plant, one of Whitby’s county councillors, said that the situation on the morning of June 5 turned quickly into “chaos” with pedestrians expecting the bridge to be closed but vehicles still crossing.
He said: “I think there was a bit of a communication error in putting out the signs with the new contractor and it did get a bit chaotic down there from about 11am.
“It was sorted by around 1pm but there was some mayhem as people did not seem sure what was going on and there were cars going across the bridge.”
A spokesman for the county council confirmed that a “miscommunication” with NY Highways had led to the closure not being put in place for part of Saturday.
The trial closure of the historic Swing Bridge is hoped to reduce traffic congestion in the popular seaside town, where the bridge is the most convenient way to cross from the west side over to the east.
Originally the plan was to implement the Swing Bridge restrictions for seven days a week but feedback from the first stage of consultation showed that the public preferred the bridge to be closed on fewer days.
The restrictions were in place as usual at the weekend.