A PUBLIC meeting was held last night calling for improvements to the road systems in Malton and Norton.

Over 100 people attended the meeting at which was set by members of the Norton & Malton Local Traffic Congestion in a bid to voice their frustration at changes to the Church Street junction which was implemented by North Yorkshire County Council two years ago.

Chaired by Darren Rushworth, the meeting was organised by local residents, Mark Wilson, Luke Postlethwaite, Rob Mackie, Nick Witteveen, and Stephen Kowalewicz.

Darren said: "At best the Church Street junction was 50 per cent right and now it is 90 per cent wrong. Our aim is to get it back to being 50 per cent wrong and then look at improving it."

Tinkerbelle Franklin said she used the junction on a daily basis and was concerned about its safety.

"As well as looking at the junction we also need to look at the traffic lights at Butcher Corner. People going to Pickering need a filter lane so they can get across the the traffic isn't backing up to Morrisons."

Stephen Shaw added: "Changes to the junction have created a 'Russian Roulette' situation. Motorist feel peer pressure as vehicles build up behind them egging them on to push forward and I see people taking risks on a regular basis.

"St Nicholas Street has got more congested as anyone coming down Commercial Street who sees the lights flashing at the level crossing turns off and uses that route to avoid Church Street. The issue has been compounded by the HGV ban which means lorries have to turn into Church Street which again holds up the traffic.

"The county council is talking about using a computerised model but that will not show the emotions of people who are using the crossing."

Chris Holliday from Acorn Community Care in Norton, which supports adults with learning disabilities, said the changes to the junction had taken away their users independence.

"Overnight 15 years of road safety training was thrown away," he added.

"We used to have around 20 people who would go to Malton to shop and access businesses but not anymore because it is too dangerous for them. Staff now have to drive them to Malton and back. It has taken away their independence."

Norton councillor Bryan Barratt, said that when he first became a firefighter in 2000 it took four minutes to get from his house to Malton fire station.

"After the junction changed it went to six and a half minutes and when I timed myself using Church Street it went up to nine minutes. For some firefighters who live in Norton it is 12 to 13 minutes and we all know how fast fires can start and spread."

County Councillor Lindsay Burr, who represents Malton, said she was prepared to work with the group.

"I can help gather up evidence to take to the county council to put pressure on them to listen to local people."

Concluding the meeting Darren said it had been a positive first step.

"We are all in agreement that we want one thing to happen and that is changing the junction back to how it was."

Speaking after the meeting Luke Postlethwaite said he would like to thank all those who had helped organise the meeting.

"I am amazed how quickly this group has grown into something that can hopefully make some needed changes.

A huge thank you to all our speakers last night for you points, insight and information. This was just the first small step for us all in our fight to get the crossing priority changed back and improved so everyone is able to go about their daily lives in our towns."