SKIPTON MP Julian Smith has called for businesses hit by the ongoing closure of the A59 at Kex Gill to be granted temporary reductions in their rates.

The MP has written to both North Yorkshire Council and the Valuation Office Agency asking that businesses along the route, which has been fully closed since the start of February, are given the 'necessary support' until the road re-opens, expected to be by the end of June.

He said: “A reduction in business rates is not a silver bullet but it will help ensure that these businesses can weather the storm and give them a fighting chance when the road does re-open."

Last week, Mr Smith made another visit to the site to look at the extensive repair scheme currently underway.

He said: “This latest closure has had a devastating impact on local businesses sited along the stretch of the A59 affected by the landslip.

“Since early February, I have received hundreds of emails from local residents and businesses who have been hit hard by the closure. Having met with North Yorkshire Council on numerous occasions and having visited the site, I am convinced that they are doing everything they can to re-open the road as swiftly and as safely as possible.

“That does not mean, however, that we shouldn’t also be doing everything possible to support those most affected. Temporarily reducing business rates would provide a small but crucial reprieve in the face of this five-month closure.

“I would strongly urge North Yorkshire Council and the Valuation Office Agency to recognise this and put together a package of measures that provides these businesses with the necessary support until the road re-opens.”

The A59 has been closed after a crack appeared at Kex Gill at the side of the road at the end of January following a landslip, caused by a prolonged period of poor weather.

The stretch of road between Skipton and Blubberhouses has remained fully closed since early February, with lengthy diversions in place.

The severity of the landslip and the subsequent gap in the carriageway increasing daily has prevented the road re-opening since it first closed, even under two-way lights.

In his letters, to the chief executives of both authorities, Mr Smith has emphasised that, while there is no statutory right to compensation as a result of road closures, the extraordinary financial impact the ongoing closure continues to have on businesses – through no fault of their own – warrants an examination of alternative means of mitigation.

North Yorkshire Council and the Valuation Office have been asked for comments.