Action call over 'death-trap' road

ANGRY residents and councillors are calling for speed restrictions on a village road which they claim has been turned into a death trap by speeding motorists.

Villagers in Calverley, near Leeds, have attacked Leeds Council's highways department and the police for failing to reduce the speed limit on Woodhall Road, which has seen seven deaths in the space of just 18 months.

In the latest tragedy, two men were killed when a white Vauxhall Cavalier ploughed into a wall on Friday night.

Police said yesterday that the car's driver, Kelly Rhodes, of Eccleshill, near Bradford, had died in hospital following the crash outside Calverley Golf Club. His passenger, Christopher Holgate, of Shipley, died on Saturday.

At present the road, which leads into the village, includes a one-mile stretch with an unrestricted speed limit and residents claim drivers often enter Calverley at high speeds.

Leeds Council's highways chiefs said a scheme to lower the speed limit was in place but claimed it had not yet been implemented because of police concerns.

Local councillors have accused West Yorkshire Police of dragging their feet on the issue and want to see safety measures, including a 40mph limit, brought in immediately.

Villager Tom Illingworth, 64, who lives in Woodhall Road, claimed drivers were "dicing with death".

He said: "This should be a quiet road but there's been seven or eight deaths in the last 18 months on a mile stretch of road.

"There was another accident over the weekend. How long before someone does something?

"Everybody wants to see the speed limit reduced because it's carnage. I get cars flying past sometimes and they just disappear in seconds."

Mr Illingworth, whose house has been hit twice in accidents, claimed the road had become a "rat run" for drivers travelling from Bradford to west Leeds.

"We've lived here for 15 years and the traffic has increased by 300 per cent, I would say. I recently counted 100 cars in two minutes going passed my house," he said.

Tory councillor Amanda Carter (Pudsey North), who was the first on the scene at Friday's accident, said: "We've been on about this for two years and nothing's happened. There's a lot of anger because villagers themselves have been killed."

Tory group leader Andrew Carter said a speed-reduction scheme had been agreed several months ago, and criticised the delays.

"It has still not been put in place largely due to the police objections to reducing the speed limit. It is not acceptable that this should be the state of affairs," he said.

"There is a very real sense of of anger among all of us that these tragedies are continuing. While no one is saying that they would not, with the introduction of appropriate road safety measures, we are saying that at least pedestrians and motorists alike would be more aware of the hazardous nature of this stretch of road."

Chief Insp John O'Neil, of West Yorkshire Police, said: "We have had a meeting in May to discuss the issue fully with Coun Carter in which we made it perfectly clear that we supported reducing the speed limit on certain stretches of that road and we understood that Coun Carter was pursuing the matter with the highways department."

The council's executive member for highways, Gerry Harper, said a plan was in place but more talks were needed with police before it could be implemented.

He said: "We have prepared a scheme that would reduce the speed limit on this notorious stretch of road and make drivers more aware of the existing speed limits along it.

"The police do have some concerns over what the exact speed limit should be and a meeting to resolve this issue will be held soon."

n Any witnesses to the latest accident are asked to contact Pudsey road traffic department on 0113 241 4859.

chris.bond@ypn.co.uk