Parents’ fears over speeding cars

NAWN 1109202 Spofforth Hill  road protesters. (1109206AM)
NAWN 1109202 Spofforth Hill road protesters. (1109206AM)
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Worried residents are demanding traffic calming measures be introduced on a busy stretch of road in Wetherby.

Carmel Dutton, who is calling on Leeds City Council’s highways department to reduce the speed limit on Spofforth Hill from 40 to 30mph and place a vehicle-activated speed warning sign at the top of the road, says many people have backed her stance since her letter on the subject was published in last week’s Wetherby News.

“There’s a lot of support from neighbours who said they have seen my letter and if they can help in any way they will,” said the 45-year-old garden designer.

“My main concern is something happening to my either of my children. Traffic comes round the corner so fast.”

Her daughter Ellen, 14, attends secondary school in Harrogate and must cross the road when using the school bus while son Myles, 10, has to travel up and down the pavement on his way to and from St Joseph’s School in Wetherby while cars speed by, she said.

“I have seen cars that must be doing 60mph and I’d say they are usually doing around 50mph.”

Mrs Dutton would also like the city council to consider introducing two pedestrian crossings and refugee islands in the centre of the road to make it safer for those on foot, as well as more enforcement of the speed limit by the police.

The road is also a worry for Sally Brown, of Chatsworth Drive, whose two sons – Oscar, seven, and Edwin, four – walk, cycle or use a scooter on their way to and from Crossley Street Primary School.

“We should be able to walk back and forth without feeling we are running the gauntlet,” said the 44-year-old librarian.

“I have to make sure both boys are close to the hedge because you can feel the draught when some of the faster vehicles come down – it’s frightening.”

She said crossing Spofforth Hill near Chatsworth Drive was an issue for all pedestrians as well as motorists trying to leave the side-road.

“When driving, the road can be completely clear but by the time I have pulled out there’s a car right up behind me,” she said.

“They must be doing more than the speed limit to get that close so soon.”

Walking up and down Spofforth Hill is also a worry for Helen Sinfield, a 42-year-old artist who lives on Thirlmere Drive.

Rather than using a car to get her two sons – Oliver, eight, and Dominic, five – to St Joseph’s School, Mrs Sinfield has been encouraging her sons to cycle using the pavement.

“It makes me nervous. You have that little panic when you go up that stretch of road. Cars can go so fast it makes Dominic wobble,” she said.

“I feel I can’t go on my bike as well as I need to be walking beside him to stop him wobbling off.”

Denise Andryszewska, who lives on Grassmere Avenue and is a mother-of-four including 12-year-old twins Alex and Rose, says her children – who all attend school in Harrogate – are forced to cross Spofforth Hill when using the bus on an evening.

“It’s a concern when they are that young that they have to deal with fast-moving traffic so anything that could slow it down would be welcome,” said the 45-year-old pensions analyst.

A spokesman for Leeds City Council said its highways department was in discussions with West Yorkshire Police on the issue of changing the speed limit on Spofforth Hill.

A timetable for the negotiations has not been set but if a change is agreed, the proposals would have to go though a full consultation before they could come into effect.

Insp Marcus Griffiths, of Wetherby police, said: “Looking at the accident statistics and the speed checks both us and Leeds City Council have carried out there’s no evidence of excess speeding on Spofforth Hill – the ratio of speeders to non-speeders is the same as on other roads.

“There will always be individuals who break the law and that’s not just on Spofforth Hill – it’s every street. We will continue to carry out speed checks on the road in the future.”

• See letters, page 10.