TRAFFIC and parking problems in Malham are being addressed after gridlock on a number of occasions this year caused by “the perfect storm”.

Councillor Neil Heseltine, a member of Kirkby Malham Parish Council and a Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority member said there are a number of days throughout the year when all the factors come together to create a nightmare situation.

As a result, Kirkby Malham Parish Council has created three online questionnaires – for residents, local businesses and visitors – as part of its project to develop a Visitor Traffic Management Plan for Malham, compiled by consultants, Atkins.

Cllr Heseltine said: “I can’t say whether this year was busier than normal but Easter Sunday in particular was ridiculous,” he said.

“It was after a long wet winter and the weather forecast for the Sunday was good. People flocked here desperate to get out but the field that is usually opened for additional parking couldn’t because of the wet weather. It was the perfect storm. Buses were stuck on the brow and some residents were getting miffed. It was a product of circumstances.

“There is always a concern if there is an emergency anywhere for emergency vehicles to get through.

“Similarly in autumn people come to get out and about in the fresh air before the winter set in but the ground is usually wet again by then and that causes problems.

“A similar thing happened last year, around March time, in what you could call the Julia Bradbury effect. Following her walking programme - Best Walks With A View - where she highlighted Janet’s Foss and Malham Cove it brought the visitors out and the village was a nightmare. I think she said it was her third favourite walk.

“One the other hand there are two pubs in the village which probably wouldn’t survive without visitors, and there is a cafe and Beck Hall which visitors support and they are there for residents too.

“We do need to address the “perfect storm” days but for those people wanting a single answer, it’s not going to happen.”

“The survey is to get feedback from people and is being managed by professional consultants. We decided it was the best thing to do after people were venting their frustration at parish council meetings and things were just going backwards and forwards.

“Some people were frustrated at the number of visitors while businesses welcomed them. Some say we should have a permanent car park while others suggest yellow lines to prevent parking but business owners said these would affect their business.

“My personal opinion is that these “perfect storm” days total about 10 in the year and don’t warrant a Tarmacked car park that people will have to look at 365 days of the year.”

Cllr Heseltine said that even using an eco-type grid which would look better would cost 100s of thousands of pounds and could not be justified for its need for a few days a year.

Countryside campaigner and ice chairman of the Yorkshire Dales Society, Colin Speakman said the issue on busy days was selfish parking by visitors - often blocking passing laybys along the road to avoid paying car park fees - coupled with a poor public transport service.

He said: “For most days most of the year there is no major problem in Malham.

“Things change on fine days at weekends, and in School holidays when the situation can literally get out of hand. Traffic builds up quickly, car parks fill and many visitors park selfishly blocking roads.

“One especially bad event occurred at Spring Bank Holiday 2018 when the main overflow car park was also closed because of saturated nature of the field, and cars were so badly parked blocking the road to Kirkby Malham, that the Sunday DalesBus - well filled with around 25 passengers - could not pass and the road was blocked for nearly an hour.

“This was nearly as bad on a couple more days during the summer. At the worst times fire engines or ambulances could not have come into the village and communities as well as visitors were at risk. This is not an acceptable situation.

“The flip side is that the public transport alternative to Malham is extremely poor. There is a Saturday bus only twice a day but timed to serve walks well and give a full day in Malham. But Monday to Fridays the last bus out of the village leaves at 1335 means if you want to spend more than a morning in Malham you must come by car.”

Mr Speakman added: “There are simple, effective management solutions would could reduce the worst problems on peak days First the main road from Kirkby Malham and the Cove and Tarn Raids should both be designated Clearways to forbid parking except in designated areas. Where this is permitted, perhaps close to the village, payment should be by meter.

“Gordale Lane and the area around the Scar also needs to be better managed. Why do cars with able bodied people in them need to drive there? I hope the new Atkins study will explore this.”

The national park authority is supporting the parish council by providing it with information; spreading the word about the surveys; and granting £7,481 towards the project from the Sustainable Development Fund.

A spokesman said the need for a fresh look at traffic management and parking in Malham was highlighted earlier this year during the Easter holidays, when people posted photos on social media showing the village to be gridlocked because of inconsiderate parking. Malham – in the heart of limestone country – has long been popular with visitors, with Malham Cove, Janet’s Foss, Malham Tarn and Gordale Scar nearby.

The Authority actively encourages visitors to the village each spring through its peregrine falcon viewing point below Malham Cove where the birds have been nesting since 1993.

Julie Barker, the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s Head of Visitor Services, said: “Traffic and parking problems in Malham have been the subject of intense discussion over many years, involving a number of different bodies. It is very important to obtain a wide range of views to help find solutions. If people who visit Malham could spare a few minutes to complete the questionnaire, it would be much appreciated.”

The resident element of the survey consists of around 23 questions and can be found at: with an opportunity to put views and ideas across.

The survey closes on October 22 and the results expected before Christmas.