THE HGV ban at Norton level crossing should be made permanent when the trial period ends on August 9, county officers have recommended.

In a report which is being presented to the councillors in the Thirsk and Malton constituency committee meeting today (Wednesday), highway officers said: “While it is acknowledged that the experimental weight restriction has created some issues elsewhere on the network, its contribution towards improvements to air quality, particularly in Wheelgate and Castlegate cannot be ignored.

“To revoke the weight restriction before the implications of the increased rail service have been fully appraised could be considered premature.”

The update has been prepared with results from various consultations the county council has been running.

These included an online public consultation, which received 129 responses - or one per cent of the population of Malton and Norton. Of these, 33 were in favour of the restriction being made permanent and 96 against.

Of the 96 against the restriction, a quarter were from the area around Highfield Road and Pasture Lane.

According to the report, the weight restriction has been monitored by North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) Trading Standards Team, and there have been 36 prosecutions for contravening the restriction.

The report also lists concerns that people have had with the ban - mainly the displacement of vehicles onto Highfield Road and Pasture Lane in Malton, and the attendant detrimental safety impact on the two primary schools.

The HGV ban was discussed at Ryedale District Council’s (RDC) meeting on Thursday, where councillors debated what the authority’s response to the county council’s consultation should be.

In the end, it was agreed the RDC response should also be that the restriction should remain “for the foreseeable future”.

This was despite the authority’s own leader, Cllr Keane Duncan, saying that the HGV ban had been a failure.

“There is no way to draw any correlation between the ban being introduced and any improvement in air quality,” he told the meeting.

He said instead the “improving picture” in air quality has instead been caused by other factors.

“We cannot possibly recommend that it should be made permanent,” he said. “I worry that once this is in place it will never be looked at again and stay there in perpetuity.”

But Cllr Simon Thackray said: “There is every indication that the air quality has improved as a result of the HGV restriction.”