A BUSINESSMAN is calling for a permanent solution to avoid the traffic chaos following the necessary road closures to deal with the flooding in Malton and Norton.

Tony Boorman, Director of Tyke 2000 Ltd said the past weeks have seen an extraordinary amount of rain and snow which has led to, unsurprisingly, flooding in Malton and Norton.

"The saviour in avoiding major damage this time has been the systems of pumps operated by a combination of the Environment Agency (EA), the local council and Yorkshire Water. The placing of these pumps at times of potential and actual flooding is vital to the towns. This, of course, has led to some inconvenience to the local population. The closure of Norton road (Blackboards) and County Bridge has obviously exacerbated the situation. But these closures were necessary given the height of the river.

"Now that the river level has subsided, its worth looking at what has worked for the towns and what could be improved.

"The major issue caused by the flooding is the closure of County Bridge which leads to traffic needing an alternate route between Malton and Norton. The by-pass is fine but a long route around.

"Norton Road is the answer, but this time, due to the temporary experimental one-way system using large concrete blocks, it proved problematic.

"If Norton Road is to remain one-way a less permanent solution will need to be found. In the meantime traffic cones would suffice for fast removal in flood situations. Removable metal bollards will be needed as a permanent flexible solution.

"The other major issue caused by high water levels, and not just at times of flooding, is the closure of Church Street.

"Church Street is the main arterial route between Malton and Norton and vice versa. When closed it forces traffic to use St. Nicholas Street which is a narrow residential street with parked cars making for a poor alternative.

"Yorkshire Water spent £1000s placing a pipe under Church Street to avoid the road being closed. Over the past 11 weeks only one week has passed without the road being fully or partially closed. This can not be the right solution. The only reason the road remains closed to due to Yorkshire Waters pipes from the pumps emerging up onto the footpath.

"The simple solution is a ramp over the water pipe. This would allow pedestrians to cross the water pipe and to walk on the footpath with no need to use the road. A more permanent solution would be to move the manhole for the pipes a metre away thus avoiding the footpath entirely. Yorkshire Water also need to enact the pumping station to do without the temporary pumps in Norton altogether.

"This disruption has had a massive impact not only on our company but those other businesses trying to go about their everyday work not to mention the inconvenience to the general public."

North Yorkshire Cllr Keane Duncan said: “We’ve seen a major effort to keep people safe in challenging circumstances, with 24 pumps deployed at the height of this flood event.

“We must be thankful, as always, for the diligent work of the teams on the ground.

“However, the few weeks have been a very disruptive time in Malton and Norton, and lessons can be learned for future flood events.

“There needs to be an agreed plan for the closure of County Bridge and key roads so that disruption to the public can be mitigated.

“The closure of Church Street and the knock-on traffic effects of this is one issue that needs attention. Agencies are now looking at a way the pumps can be arranged in future to resolve this.

“The one-way on Norton Road needs to be quickly adaptable so that two-way traffic can be reinstated quickly if County Bridge needs to close.”

A spokesperson for Yorkshire Water said: “We’ve been working closely with North Yorkshire Council and the Environment Agency on the multi-agency flood plan to respond to high river and groundwater levels in Malton and Norton in recent weeks. As part of this, all organisations deployed temporary pumps to help protect homes and businesses from flooding. Any long-term solution to reduce the risk of flooding will require ourselves, the Environment Agency, North Yorkshire Council and others to work together. This is not an issue for one single organisation to solve."