THE Mayor of Norton has been accused of abusing her position of power after asking for access to the town's car park to be restricted following concerns over public safety.

Cllr Di Keal had asked North Yorkshire Highways to barrier off the Church Street entrance to St Nicholas Street car park as, due to roadworks on Church Street and Welham Road.

She said it had become a rat run used by motorists unwilling to take the official diversion and instead wanting to shave a few minutes off their journey.

READ MORE: Public safety must surely come first in car park

Cllr Keal added: "I witnessed a young girl nearly hit by a car as a motorist sped through the carpark far too fast. Motorists crossing the carpark at excessive speed to make the short cut are at real risk of killing someone.

During busy periods a constant queue of traffic backs up through the car park trying to force its way onto St Nicholas Street.

It was vital to put public safety first and North Yorkshire Highways sensibly erected the barriers, only for them to be removed again less than 48 hours later because North Yorkshire Councillor Keane Duncan objected to them.

"As Councillor Duncan does not live in Norton and hasn’t attended a town council meeting for more than 18 months perhaps he should consult with more than social media before he instructs officers to act.

Over last weekend traffic continued to stream through the car park which is extremely dangerous for pedestrians and frustrating for motorists who follow the designated diversion signs. The situation is far worse during the working week.

"The roadworks are only temporary so motorists would not be inconvenienced for long, so surely we should all put public safety first?"

However Cllr Duncan said Cllr Keal had no legal authority to do so and it represented an abuse of position.

He said: “The car park access was closed following a request by Di Keal, a resident of nearby St Nicholas Street.

“Di made the request as ‘Mayor of Norton’. She had no legal authority to do so and it represented an abuse of position.

“What is more, the closure was introduced without any prior advertisement, warning or consultation with residents or businesses. As a result, this closure was later removed.

“Di previously attempted to introduce a one-way system on St Nicholas Street without proper public consultation. When this came to light, there was significant backlash from Norton residents and her plan was abandoned.

“To avoid Di attempting to unfairly using her position as Mayor to influence highways matters in the future, the team will no longer be actioning her requests without first consulting with myself as the elected North Yorkshire councillor for the town.”

* See letters page 16.