Masham’s MP has said he is “staggered” at the cost of tourist signs for the town, and the town’s parish council has called an extraordinary general meeting to try and tackle the situation.
Julian Smith, who represents the Skipton and Ripon constituency, has criticised the £36,000 price tag the Highways Agency has put on two signs to Masham from the upgraded A1(M).
Chairman of the parish council Andrew Burrell said funding the signs was beyond the parish council’s means.
He said: “At this stage, we don’t know if we will be able to commit the residents of Masham to that. It is a burden we will not be able to bear without assurance of funding from elsewhere.”
The MP spoke up to support businesses in the Masham area who have campaigned to see signs to the town reinstated on the A1.
He said: “I have been staggered by the sums of money being quoted for the installation of two brown signs and very disappointed by the lack of appreciation by the Highways Agency of the devastating economic impact that not having signage is having on Masham.
“In my communications with the Highways Agency I have seen no understanding of the size of the businesses that these signs will benefit. These are, by and large, small, exceptionally hard-working micro businesses. Some have lost 25 per cent of their business in recent years and believe the lack of signs off the A1 is to blame for a large proportion of that.
“All I ask is that the Highways Agency put themselves in the shoes of those who are working flat out to create jobs and wealth in this part of North Yorkshire and think again about the figures they are quoting for two brown signs.”
Earlier this year the Transport Minister gave the go-ahead for signage on the route, after it was removed during the upgrade of the A1.
Two signs directing southbound traffic to Masham from junction 51, Leeming Bar, will be installed as part of the road improvements at no cost to the community, but two signs directing northbound traffic to Masham from junction 50, Baldersby, will cost at least £36,000, the agency said.
Parish Councillor Flo Grainger, who has been leading the signs campaign in Masham, said the lack of signage has devastated the tourist trade in the town, and she feels they are being treated unfairly with the “overwhelming” costs.
“It is questionable that any attraction already signed has even paid a fraction of such a ridiculous fee. Half of the figure currently quoted would be difficult enough to raise for a small economically challenged rural area, even with our eminently successful and renowned local businesses,” she said.
l Masham Parish Council’s Extraordinary General Meeting will take place at Masham Town Hall on Monday, March 19, at 8pm, and is open to members of the public.