CAMPAIGNERS in Masham have been celebrating after the Department for Transport agreed to allow brown tourist signs for the town on the new A1(M).
The decision follows an 18-month ‘Masham on the Map’ campaign – led by the town’s MP, Julian Smith, and councillor Flo Grainger.
Mr Smith was told the news by Transport Minister Mike Penning at a meeting in Westminster.
The MP said: “After a long campaign, I am delighted that the Government has overturned the outdated and anti-growth regulations to ensure Masham is clearly signposted off the upgraded A1(M).
“Directing tourists to Masham and Wensleydale is vital for the town and the area’s economy and this campaign has been one of my priorities since I became the Member of Parliament.”
Equally delighted was Coun Grainger, who has organised several meetings in the town and presented a petition signed by dozens of the area’s businesses to show the strength of feeling about the brown signs.
She said: “This is fantastic news and I am thrilled that Ministers have accepted our arguments that these signs are vital for bringing in visitors to Masham and Wensleydale.
“I look forward to seeing Masham once again signposted off such a key route.”
The campaign still faces another hurdle, however, as the Transport Minister revealed no funding was available for the additional signs.
Mr Smith said: “As the Minister has said he is unable to fund the signs I am forming a community taskforce to work with the Highways Agency to find the funds so that these vital signs can be installed as soon as possible.
“I am determined that when the upgrade opens later this year, we will have our new Masham signs in place”
Over the past 18 months, Mr Smith has led the campaign at Westminster by raising the issue in the House of Commons, meeting with the Transport Secretary and having many discussions with Ministers and the Highways Agency.
In a letter to the MP confirming the decision, Transport Minister Mike Penning wrote: “I am working together with MP John Penrose in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport on a review of brown signs.
“Central to this is the fact that a tourist sign does give a welcome boost to tourist attractions – something which now, more than ever, is needed.
“I am determined that the new system, while not putting unnecessary clutter on our roads, should provide a far more flexible and pragmatic approach to tourist signing.
“I am very happy to agree to your request for brown signs to Masham and Wensleydale.”
l Mr Smith is inviting those interested in helping on the community taskforce working with the Highways Agency to come to a short meeting at Masham town hall on Wednesday, February 15, at 5.30pm.