A CALL to cut a speed limit on a road where a schoolboy was knocked down and killed has been turned down by a single vote.
Highways chiefs carried out consultation on whether the A690 between Carrville and Gilesgate should be dropped from 70mph to 50mph after 13-year-old Brandon Nugent died in March 2011 as he crossed the dual carriageway.
His mother, Madeline Walker, has praised efforts to make the crossing safer, with extra signs and bollards put in place, but says it would be better if it was scrapped completely and says more must be done to prevent another death – including installing more lighting.
Yesterday, Durham County Council’s highways committee considered a report which said that out of 140 people who responded to a survey, 116 – 77 per cent – were against changing the limit, while 34 – 23 per cent – were in favour of a reduction, with officers recommending the limit remain as it is.
Police say the national speed limit is right for the road under guidelines, and checking that motorists were travelling at 50mph or less would be an “enforcement burden”.
Between January 2009 and July 2012, there were nine slight injury accidents and two fatalities on the stretch. Police say speed was a factor in only one, with the two deaths caused by pedestrian error, and claim there would have been little difference if the vehicles involved had been travelling at 50mph or 70mph.
The councillors were told that in Chester Moor, where a road speed limit was dropped from 70mph to 50mph, a study had shown that a third of the tens of thousands of cars which pass through were speeding. Councillor Les Thomson, a member for Gilesgate, proposed to drop the limit, which he said had the backing of Belmont Parish Council and his ward colleague Dennis Southwell.
He said junctions, which include one to a caravan park and depot, and the likelihood that taxis and motorbikes will be able to use the bus lane, went in its favour.
He said: “It’s important for the safety of all road users. We don’t want another fatality on this stretch of road.”
Councillor Neil Foster recommended the councillors back officers and said: “One problem is that drivers feel frustrated, and anybody that knows that road will know in the Sunderland section, they dropped the speed limit.
“That’s led to jockeying, people making passes and risky overtaking.”
Seven councillors backed the recommendation to leave the 70mph limit in place, with six supporting the proposal to drop it down to 50mph.
After the meeting, Madeline said: “The one thing that’s making me feel better is that there are people on my side about this.
“I just hope nothing else happens there, because what are they going to do then?”
The council has said it will also closely monitor and cut back the foliage along the road to improve visibility.