Out & About …

… on the North York Moors, or wherever I happen to be.

Local Governance Quagmires: Who Pays for Road Repairs?

One might think that our modern roads just magically appeared, but let’s cast our gaze upon the B1257, the stretch that runs between Stokesley and Helmsley, for a tale of twists and turns.

First, let’s scale Cushat Hill to Clay Bank, which, back in the day, used to be known as Hagg’s Gate. Then, it takes a descent down Hasty Bank into the depths of Bilsdale. A road favoured by motorcyclists, they’ve even dubbed it the Bilsdale TT in certain circles, where folks race against the clock. But alas, this road has seen its share of tragedy, with several lives lost in my memory. I recall one grim day when I gazed upon the aftermath of such a mishap from high up on Trennet Bank. Very sobering.

Now, as for that road up Cushat Hill, it’s worth noting that it’s a relatively modern creation, constructed in the 1930s. The old road met its demise in a colossal landslide back in 1872. I’ve posted about that here.

In 1911, near Hagg’s Gate, the road suffered from subsidence, perhaps due to flooding, though Lord Feversham disavowed any responsibility for the watery woes — I think the precise location was just past the col on the initial descent into Bilsdale. Nevertheless, Lord Feversham offered to widen the treacherous portion by a good six feet, provided the Stokesley Rural Council mended the fences. Workmen bored the ground some 12 or 13 feet below the road and found it to be waterlogged. It was noted that the road, owing to its boggy foundation, had a tendency to give way every time a char-a-banc rumbled past, casting doubts on the embankment’s stability1‘Road through Bilsdale. Last Week’s Failures. | Northern Echo | Monday 31 July 1911 | British Newspaper Archive’. 2023. Britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk <https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0000087/19110731/162/0008> [accessed 3 October 2023].

As with the repairs back in 1872, the age-old question arose: Who’d foot the bill? It was no small sum, too much for the Stokesley Rural Council. Had the road been classified as a main road, the Scarborough District Council would’ve picked up the tab. Lord Feversham’s offer was accepted, and a plea was made to the Roads Board for some financial aid.

By the by, in the summer of 1911, when all this was being played out, the North Riding County Council floated an idea to take over main road maintenance, but the Scarborough District Council pushed back, championing the status quo, where they handled such affairs. Fast forward a century, and the intricacies of local governance still leave one scratching our heads.



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