SKIPTON MP Julian Smith has thrown his weight behind growing calls to build a new road to bypass the troublesome Kex Gill stretch of the A59.

The MP for Skipton and Ripon is just one of the thousands who have been seriously inconvenienced since the road was suddenly closed more than seven weeks ago on January 5, after heavy rain drew fears of a major landslide.

It will be the longest period that the road – between Skipton and Harrogate – has been closed since 2011, when it was shut for five weeks. And it is not due to open for at least 11 more days.

Mr Smith is to carry out meetings with like-minded councillors, and leaders of North Yorkshire County Council, before heading a summit of transport ministers, including the Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones. The council itself has long held plans to 're-align' the road at Kex Gill to sort out the problem once and for all.

But now, the council, which in the past seven years has spent almost a million pounds in what appears to be failed attempts to stop the steep slope from collapsing into the road, and onto unsuspecting motorists, has made those plans a priority.

The bypass road will cost in the region of £33 million, says the council, which by all accounts is ready to spring into action – once it gets the money.

And there does appear to be a cautious optimism. The will is definitely there, and it must help having a local MP in the transport department.

The county council should receive cash back from the Government for the current work taking place, but it clearly makes no sense to keep throwing money at a problem that will simply keep returning. A figure of £33 million is a lot of money, but it would be money well spent for all those who have had hours added onto their travel times during the past seven weeks.