'It won't be long before there's a fatality' - Leeds residents call for action after a dozen crashes in five years

Residents in a Leeds street blighted by crashes have criticised the council for refusing to act until someone is seriously injured.

Thursday, 16th January 2020, 6:00 am

There have been as many as a dozen crashes on the short stretch of road outside their Farnley homes since speed bumps were installed in 2015, with residents saying eight cars were written off in one month alone.

But highways officials at Leeds City Council have repeatedly refused pleas to replace the speed bumps with alternative traffic calming measures, saying they can only justifying funding work at locations where there have been serious injuries or fatalities.

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Residents on Stonebridge Lane say there have been as many as 12 crashes in the last five years.

A letter to the YEP, signed by residents from nine homes overlooking the speed bumps in Stonebridge Lane, says: "We are sick and tired of the numerous road traffic accidents which happen regular on our road; accidents which have damaged our property and vehicles."

Many of the signatories have had their garden walls or cars damaged as vehicles lose control on the speed bump and overturn.

Angela Lacey, who has lived there for 17 years, said: "I've probably had my wall knocked down three times, I've had cars on my drive and garden, I've had injured people in the house to look after them while ambulances arrive."

She said she now has a hi-vis jacket and traffic cones, which she puts at the top of the road following crashes until the police arrive to make the scene safe.

Speed bumps were installed in 2015 but residents say they have done nothing to slow drivers down. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

Like many others on the street, she believes it is only a matter of time until someone suffers a serious injury or loses their life.

"It's just an accident waiting to happen," said Angela, 57. "Kids walk up and down here for school. It won't be long before there's a fatality unless something is done."

She said the speed bumps have failed to slow drivers down and present a hazard in themselves when it snows as drivers cannot see they are there.

Resident Keith Ashton says the council has refused to take action until someone is seriously injured or killed on the road. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

Since Stonebridge Lane is on a bus route, it is designated part of the council's priority gritting route.

But this has not stopped crashes taking place during the winter and does nothing to address residents' concerns during the rest of the year.

Holly Youngman, 37, said the garden wall of her rented property was knocked down during a collision in August last year.

A car crashed into a telegraph pole, which was sent crashing into the garden and came close to hitting the house itself.

Residents say the frequency of crashes gets even worse during the winter months when drivers cannot always see the speed bumps are there.

On another occasion, the same telegraph pole was knocked over and landed on her car - just a few months after she had passed her driving test.

"It's only going to be a matter of time before someone's walking down the street when that happens," she said.

Resident Keith Ashton, who has lived on the street since 2006, was made redundant after being injured while parked up outside his home.

While preparing to set off to collect a family member from hospital in January 2018, his car was hit by another vehicle that had lost control at the speed bumps.

He said: "We've had 12 collisions since 2015 - they put the speed bumps in then. I don't remember any collisions before that.

"What the council are trying to say to us is there's been no serious accident. They've hit my wall twice and hit my car. I've lost my job because of it."

Many residents have had their garden walls or cars damaged during collisions on the road.

He described witnessing one near-miss where two schoolgirls would have been hit by a car had it not crashed into his own.

Pleas for action from residents were refused in March 2018 on the basis that there had only been one crash recorded as resulting in an injury in the past five years, with the driver involved suspected of drink driving.

Further requests for action in November 2018 were turned down, although by then a second injury involving an off-road motorbike had been recorded.

Responses to queries raised by ward councillors and Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves made the same observations about funding criteria and highlighted the street's priority gritting status.

More recently the council has suggested that resurfacing work might be carried out if teams are in the area anyway for other schemes - but the position remained that funding for more significant work will only be approved on roads where there have been serious injuries or fatalities.

After being contacted by the YEP, a council spokesman said:

A Leeds City Council spokesperson said: “We have received reports from local residents that there has been a sudden increase in road collisions at this location. To investigate these concerns thoroughly, council officers will be discussing these recent incidents with the police to determine if there is a commonality between these collisions. Officers will also be conducting further speed surveys and reviewing the impact of the existing traffic calming features.

“In light of these ongoing assessments, it is not possible at this stage to provide any further comments until all the facts behind the recent incidents are understood. Once this investigation has been concluded, officers will detail their findings and intended course of action.”

Resident Amanda Lacey says she now has a hi-vis jacket and puts out traffic cones after any collisions to stop other cars getting caught up in the crash scene.