'Racetrack' route in Northumberland to be focus of road safety investigation

A councillor has agreed to fund initial work for road-safety measures on a Northumberland stretch which has sparked repeated speeding concerns.

Monday, 3rd August 2020, 11:38 am
Updated Monday, 3rd August 2020, 11:46 am
Stakeford Lane, Northumberland

The local authority has received an e-petition about excessive vehicle speeds on the A196 at Stakeford Lane, from the Half Moon roundabout to the Queen’s Head roundabout.

Signed by 85 people, it called on Northumberland County Council to look at this issue urgently and for proposals to be given to residents, within a reasonable time-scale, for road-safety measures.

In a statement, the lead petitioner said that over the years, residents’ vehicles have been hit and cars have ended up crashing through gardens and walls, describing the route as part of a ‘racetrack’.

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When the issue was discussed at the Thursday, July 30, meeting of the council’s petitions committee, it was reported that Cllr Julie Foster, the local ward member, has agreed to fund preliminary design through her local improvement schemes allowance.

Depending on what came out of this, any proposals would need to be considered for inclusion in a future Local Transport Plan programme as the funding is already allocated for 2020-21.

This approach was chosen given that the results of speed surveys carried out in June last year did not meet the normal criteria for enforcement action.

However, the report to the meeting added that it is clear from the results that there are high numbers of vehicles driving above the 30mph speed limit which is clearly unacceptable.

At the two locations where monitoring took place – by the school field and at Bothal Terrace – in both directions, hundreds of vehicles were found to be travelling above 31mph, with single-digit numbers of vehicles at each spot travelling more than 51mph.

The threshold for police enforcement action is for the 85th percentile speeds, to be above 35mph, ie, for 15% of vehicles to be travelling above 35mph, which was not the case here.

Cllr Glen Sanderson, the cabinet member responsible for roads, said: “We do have to have a system that’s fair, equal and transparent for all members.”

Cllr Barry Flux added: “The report sets out the right approach. We as councillors have a duty to come up with solutions.”

The meeting heard that speeding reports had risen dramatically during the Covid-19 lockdown period, while many of the councillors said that they had similar issues in their wards.

Chairman, Cllr Richard Dodd, said: “The camera vans seem to be interested in making money on a 9-to-5 basis and they are never out at night in the areas where the boys racers are out.”

The camera vans are operated by Northumbria Police, via the Northumbria Safer Roads Partnership, and Paul Jones, the council’s director of local services, said: “We have pressed them to have a more even distribution, rather than the busier sites, to tackle speeding across the county as a whole and they have been responsive to that.”

Cllr Sanderson said that while he was not convinced that the sites have always been based on accident records, ‘in more recent years, I’m more satisfied about that’.

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