Scarborough car crash hotspot prompts campaigners call for action and speed limit cut 'before someone is killed'

A group of campaigners is calling on North Yorkshire County Council to drastically reduce the speed limit at a car crash hotspot near Scarborough.

By George Buksmann
Friday, 1st July 2022, 4:35 pm
Updated Friday, 1st July 2022, 4:37 pm
Campaigners have recorded 18 crash incidents at Forge Valley. (Photo: Derek Rowell)
Campaigners have recorded 18 crash incidents at Forge Valley. (Photo: Derek Rowell)

Residents in East Ayton have become increasingly concerned at the number of crashes in the last three years and say "there is a tragedy waiting to happen".

Speaking to The Scarborough News, the campaigners say they have recorded at least 18 such incidents where cars have lost control, crashed or left the road entirely – which they believe is due to excessive speed.

They say a stretch of road on Seavegate – the main carriageway through Forge Valley – and not far from the Old Man's Mouth car park has become a particularly prevalent car crash blackspot in recent years.

Campaigners Norma Harrison, and Boycie, Robert Peacock, Derek Rowell, Sharon Swain, Cllr David Jeffels and Gareth Swain.

Cllr Heather Phillips, Chairman of East Ayton Parish Council and Conservative Deputy Leader at Scarborough Council, said: "We have requested action to reduce speeds on so many occasions, but we never get anywhere near county council funding to pay for the signs that residents are calling for."

Campaigners claim the lack of registering all crashes by authorities means they are stuck in a perpetual cycle of being unable to apply for improved road safety standards from North Yorkshire County Council due to a lack of data.

Campaigners say that safety measures are only investigated where three personal injury collisions have occurred and because authorities only record this specific crash type, instead of all incidents, it means there can be no analysis of patterns to allow investment in road safety measures before a fatal crash.

The Department for Transport's Reported Road Casualties 2021 report says "there is no obligation for people to report all personal injury collisions to the police." Therefore, the data does not represent the full range of all collisions.

A car crashes down the bankside and almost ends up in the River Derwent. (Photo: Derek Rowell)

'Only a matter of time before fatality'

Parish Cllr Robert Peacock, who is also vice-chair of Raincliffe Woods Community Enterprise, said: "I am repeatedly being called out to incidents where cars have ploughed down the bankside demolishing walls and fences.

"I am worried that walkers and cyclists will end up being part of the tragedy that no one wants to see."

One particularly busy period in April 2021 saw three crashes in the space of two weeks. Two cars even crashed and flipped onto their roofs just hours apart in separate incidents on March 15 this year, one in the morning and another in the afternoon.

Campaigners Robert Peacock and Derek Rowell chat to Cllr David Jeffels.

The inaction has forced East Ayton Parish Council to launch a new road safety campaign – 'Just Forty in Forge Valley' – with councillors unanimously agreeing that the speed limit should be reduced from 60mph.

The dark and often damp road conditions created by the abundant overhead tree cover contribute to the issue in an area that is frequented by families. Campaigners believe it is only a matter of time before someone is killed.

Cllr Phillips said the council has written to Zoë Metcalfe, who pledged to crack down on speeding during her campaign to be elected as North Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner.

"It's fundamental to our campaign that she agrees to get her police officers to record all accidents, not just personal injury collisions," Cllr Phillips added.

A car beaches itself on a pile of rocks after leaving the road. (Photo: Derek Rowell)

The county's Road Safety Partnership Safer Roads Strategy reveals that 57 per cent of killed and serious injury collisions happen on rural roads with 60mph speed limits, with 33 per cent of these in wet conditions.

However, when the parish council invited traffic managers to audit the route they reportedly declined on the basis that there was insufficient data to warrant an investigation.

'Road safety taken seriously'

County Councillor David Jeffels, the Derwent Valley and Moor division member, said: "The problem of speeding traffic has become increasingly worrying because the road is seen as a shortcut route for motorists travelling from the northern Scarborough area to the A171.

"The situation is aggravated because of the high number of pedestrians and cyclists using the route and the lack of a footpath."

Cllr Jeffels, who is a member of the county council's Transport Scrutiny Committee, added: "Motorists need to take heed of the road's bends. I have been allocated £3,000 towards the provision of warning signs from the Chief Constable's AJ1 Number Plate Fund, which will hopefully help emphasise the road safety worries of residents and the parish council.

Road dangers at the Forge Valley blackspot where a wall has been demolished.

"If further funding can be found to discourage motorists from speeding this will be welcome. The road has a bad accident record mainly due to careless driving. If we can help change the attitudes of those using the road it will be a big step forward."

North Yorkshire County Council has told The Scarborough News that it will now meet with campaigners on Monday July 4 to discuss their concerns.

Nigel Smith, North Yorkshire County Council's Head of Highway Operations and Sarah Davies from the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner's office are set to attend.

Mr Smith said: "We take our road safety responsibilities very seriously and comply fully with our statutory duty. We will always listen to concerns of parishes and local communities. The Highways Area Manager and I are liaising with the community.

"We routinely monitor road collision data, carry out comprehensive analysis of routes and fatal collisions to reduce the risk of future incidents. Although this location is not a priority for road safety engineering, we will continue to monitor safety at the site and act if it is necessary."

North Yorkshire Police has been contacted for comment.