Village's plea for speed reduction on 'narrow, winding' 60mph road is rejected by Lancashire County Council again

A village's pleas to have the speed limit on an unlit rural road to Poulton reduced has once again fallen on deaf ears.

Thursday, 19th August 2021, 12:32 pm
Updated Friday, 20th August 2021, 9:24 am
An overturned car on Smithy Lane, Staining. Picture by Martin Bostock

Staining Parish Council and residents have been fighting for years to have the 60mph speed limit on Smithy Lane reduced, citing dangerous driving and a number of accidents which have plagued the area.

However, their requests have been repeatedly denied by Lancashire County Council, which oversees highways in Fylde.

A recent letter of rejection from the authority, shared by the parish council, read: "Department for Transport guidance suggests that speed limits should not be used to attempt to solve the problem of isolated hazards. Instead, drivers should adjust their behaviour to take into consideration the road, the traffic, and the weather conditions at the time.

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"To ensure any new road safety measures have the greatest impact, we focus on locations with a proven road safety issue. This is mainly determined by the number of reported injury accidents at a particular location. We also target schemes that help improve the wider highway network. The data provided by the police shows that in the past five years there have been injury collisions along this stretch of road, however none of them sighted speeding or lack of visibility due to the nature of the road as a causation."

The recent rejection came on the back of yet another collision being reported on the road, which runs between Staining and Hardhorn, towards Poulton.

But the county council said the latest accident 'had other primary causation other that the carriageway speed and road layout', and that it would only consider a speed limit reduction if there were crashes caused by the road layout or speed which also resulted in people being injured.

They said: "Speed limits are the upper limit at which you can travel, if it is safe to do so, a person new to the area may well travel at a speed much lower than the limit, whereas a local may travel at a higher speed being familiar with the road. The reduction of a speed limit will not change driver behaviour if they feel safe and confident at travelling at a higher speed and on such roads, there are no locations for the police to undertake enforcement action. Therefore, we do not plan to undertake further action at present."

Staining resident David Gratrix, who has headed the campaign to reduce the speed limit on the lane for the past 13 months, said: "Smithy Lane is such a narrow road, and now it's the main cut through to the M55 from Poulton, Thornton and Fleetwood, and it has become a nightmare. Lancashire County Council's highways department don't see a reason to reduce the speed limit, because they say the accidents there are caused by dangerous driving.

"This is ridiculous. Of course they are caused by speeding. People are driving 60mph down a narrow, winding lane. It's a fatality waiting to happen.

"Every parish council meeting we have comments about how dangerous it is. There's a livery there with horses and people take their lives in their hands whenever they ride out because the speeding is so bad.

"In the winter the water runs off the fields onto the road and it's like an ice rink.

"People are up in arms. For years this has been a problem. The road is only fit for the width of one car, and only passable for two cars if one goes into a little cut in the side of the road.

"At the end of the day, it's a dangerous road. There have been numbers accidents, and LCC will not stop me from campaigning for at least a 40mph limit. Most roads around the Fylde coast area have a 40mph limit now, yet this isolated little stretch of road, which is the narrowest and most dangerous on the Fylde coast for the amount of traffic it sees, is 60mph. It's absolutely ridiculous."

Other Staining residents took to social media to voice their complaints about the road.

Kimberly Mitchell said: "I dont think any of this reasoning is clear. Are they waiting for an accident to happen? The road has twists and turns where a driver driving fast or recklessly could cause a serious accident and unnessesary hospitalisation.

"Commenting on the last five years stats or whatever other tick box they have does not equate to the locals visibly seeing an increase in speed, large vehicles that somehow appear to control the road, and more cars driving down Smithy as a cut through to speed up."

Danielle Camm said: "Maybe it needs to become a B-road. I wonder if that way the limit can be reduced."

Lancashire County Council was approached for comment.