Tyne & Wear

Stanhope Ford's permanent closure approved

A van being rescued from Stanhope Ford in Weardale
Image caption The Highway's Committee has agreed the recommendation to close Stanhope Ford

Stanhope Ford in County Durham is to be permanently closed to vehicles in the interest of public safety following a public inquiry.

Police closed the River Wear road crossing in 2008 after a number of stranded motorists had to be rescued.

The inquiry concluded that the public safety benefits of permanent closure outweighed the objections raised.

Durham County Council's Highways Committee has now endorsed the recommendation to close the ford.

The inquiry heard that during the summer months between 2001 and 2008 a vehicle needed rescuing, on average, once every four months - causing a risk to both the occupants and those called out to rescue them.

Evidence also showed that changes in the water levels can happen quickly and without warning at any time of the year.

'Greater priority'

The inquiry considered possible alternative courses of action but none of the alternatives put forward would result in improved public safety and, in some cases, would be unworkable.

Chair of the Highways Committee Geraldine Bleasdale said: "We recognise that the ford is seen by many as an important tourist attraction but, having considered the evidence, we are in agreement with the inspector that the issue of public safety is a greater priority.

"And, like the inspector, we feel that the location's appeal to visitors can only be enhanced by making it safer and more attractive by not having vehicles driving through."

The committee heard that there are still procedures in place which could see the ford used for occasional motor vehicle rallies, providing strict safety measures were in place.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites