A county councillor who has long campaigned on speeding has hit out at the authority’s lack of influence in a road-safety partnership.
At last week’s full meeting of Northumberland County Council, Glen Sanderson, ward member for Longhorsley, raised the issue of the Northumbria Safer Roads Initiative (NSRI), a partnership of local councils and the police which deploys speed camera vans in the North East, and claimed that Northumberland does not carry enough clout.
Coun Sanderson said: “The county council contributes more than £100,000 a year of taxpayers’ money to this partnership. Its role is to bring about speed reduction and therefore safer roads. However, many of the most needy parts of the county are being ignored.
“From the figures that I requested, yet again over the past six months, the A697, one of the UK’s worst rural A-class roads in terms of accidents has been almost ignored while honeypot sites which have absolutely no accident records are targeted.
“It would appear that the vans repeatedly like to visit specific sites in Amble and Morpeth where motorists might exceed the 30mph limits marginally – but where accidents just haven’t happened in recent years.”
Coun Sanderson blasted the Labour administration’s spokesman on highways, Coun Ian Swithenbank, for doing ‘almost next to nothing’, adding: “There is hardly a part of the county which doesn’t have a speeding issue – often on rural roads and especially on the A697 where we have had tragic accident figures over past years.
However, Coun Swithenbank said: “The council remains a key and highly effective partner in the NSRI and is committed to improving road safety across the county.”
He explained that a multi-agency workshop to improve deployment of the speed cameras within the county and to establish the most appropriate sites for the police to address took place two years ago.
Coun Swithenbank also highlighted that an ‘extensive review of the A697’ was carried out in 2014/15 and ‘a programme of measures designed to improve road safety along the road has been included in the council’s Local Transport Plan’.
Three sections are now complete with another three being implemented this year.