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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 November 2007, 14:20 GMT
Sat nav blamed for river closure
Stanhope Ford barrier
The barriers will be in place between October and March
Sat nav systems are to blame for the closure of a County Durham river crossing, according to local residents.

Barriers have been erected at Stanhope Ford to prevent motorists attempting to cross the River Wear during winter.

The restrictions were imposed after several drivers needed rescuing when their vehicles were swept away by the rain-swollen river.

People living nearby say the problem became worse when sat navs started directing motorists across the ford.

Durham County Council closed the crossing after several months of consultations with the public and organisations including the Highways Agency and the emergency services.

The barriers will be in place between 1 October and 31 March each year.

It's part of what makes Stanhope unique, and now it's closed half the year because visitors to the village have no common sense
Joan Woodhall, local trader

Crawleyside resident John Viscount said: "Rescues cost money and a lot of people have been stuck in the ford recently, so I think closure is the right option.

"Locals have more sense than to cross when the water's high. It's satellite navigation that's causing the problems for visitors to the town.

"A wagon driver was stuck in there just last week because the sat nav told him the quickest route was through the ford. Closing it is probably a good idea."

Prior to the barrier being erected, signs were already in place at both sides of the river warning motorists about the risk of crossing.

A water level meter also indicated when it was safe to drive through.

But local trader Joan Woodhall claims the ford is part of the village's identity and should have stayed open.

She said: "It's part of what makes Stanhope unique, and now it's closed half the year because visitors to the village have no common sense."

Driver rescued on river crossing
15 Aug 07 |  England
Winter closure plan for crossing
01 Aug 07 |  England
Rescue drama ford faces closure
26 Oct 04 |  England
Two airlifted from swollen river
19 Aug 04 |  England

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