We need £40K to get Masham and the Dales back on the map! You can make your contribution, online – click here. Even small amounts really add up!
WHAT’S THE STORY?
Masham and other communities in lower Wensleydale have been severely affected since the Masham junction on the A1 was closed as part of the A1 upgrade. Masham was never included in the public consultation during the planning of the new road and we have been trying to get our voice heard ever since.
Drivers are now required to exit the A1 a junction earlier when coming from the south, but there is no sign to say so. Maps and satnav systems are typically out of date, drivers overshoot the junction they need and are forced to drive an extra 12 miles up the A1 before they can get off. There are many reports of dangerous driving as people realise they have missed the junction. Visitors express their frustration at the difficult journey, often involving getting lost, wasting petrol on a 20 mile detour and arriving late and stressed. Many other visitors who would have stopped off on their way into the Dales, now travel further up the A1 and miss Masham altogether.
The Highways Agency who are responsible for directional signs on the A1(M) refuse to allow Masham a standard directional sign. Only after lengthy negotiations have they agreed to allow us brown tourist signs, but Masham Parish Council have been told they would have to foot the astonishing £36,000 bill as well as accepting unlimited liability if anything goes wrong. Not only is this a unaffordable amount for a small rural Parish Council, it is an impossible level of potential liability.
In May 2013, unable to write off another year, a coalition of Masham businesses took matters into their own hands, designing and erected an unofficial, low-cost sign on private land at the side of the A1. This hand painted Masham signpost, designed by Masham artist, Rob Blades, was intended as a temporary measure to alleviate the problem, bolster Masham’s economy and keep the town on the map during the peak season.
Unfortunately, Harrogate Borough Council planners didn’t see it that way. They issued a notice to remove the sign with immediate effect, just at the start of the summer holidays. It seems the sign required planning permission. However, we were also advised by planners that an application for planning permission would fail. We had no choice but to remove the sign.
Our sign had stimulated a great response. Visitors and locals had taken it to their hearts. Its loss was certainly felt throughout the summer of 2013 when we collected over 3,000 signatures in a couple of months in support of signage .
Great news! The Tour de France is coming through Masham and Harrogate Borough Council announced a planning amnesty for any signs for events related to the Tour de France celebrations. So, we thought we’d put our lovely sign back and include an advert for our Tour celebrations on 5th July. Of course this is only a temporary measure. Official negotiations are still ongoing with the Highways Agency – specifically we are awaiting their response to a proposal that the liability is capped at a maximum of £40,ooo which would give us a realistic target for fundraising. But in the short term we have to do something to help visitors find us safely and the sign is our only option.
YOU CAN HELP….
Masham is a very special place – our community and the rest of lower Wensleydale is not being treated fairly. Ours is a community really worth visiting and definitely worth keeping on the map! We don’t believe it’s right ask the Dales community to pay to replace signs we already had and weren’t even consulted about removing, but we are desperate for a solution. Please help us to help visitors find us – we are appealing for funds to help us reach the massive £40K target. Every little helps. You can give online here. Or call in to Mashamshire Community Office and give in person.
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