Villagers vow to fight on for speed restriction

Pictured on Wide Howe Lane are, from left, County Coun Paul Richardson, parish clerk Norman Clegg, resident Bobby Clegg, District Coun Chris Brown, and resident Stewart Webb. (111109M3a)
Pictured on Wide Howe Lane are, from left, County Coun Paul Richardson, parish clerk Norman Clegg, resident Bobby Clegg, District Coun Chris Brown, and resident Stewart Webb. (111109M3a)
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Villagers in Baldersby St James have been left disappointed after a long-running campaign for a 30mph speed limit in the village was turned down.

County Councillors rejected the plans at a meeting of the Harrogate Area Committee on Thursday, November 3, leaving residents fearful that their village will become a “rat run” for drivers turning off the upgraded A1.

Baldersby St James contains around 15 houses but the full village school is attended by 50 pupils, and the road through the village currently has a 40mph limit.

Yvonne Wainwright is chairman of Baldersby and Baldersby St James Parish Council.

“I am very disappointed. I think the parish council and the community have been totally let down. I wonder if those councillors who voted against lowering the speed limit have been through the village and seen what we have to put up with.

“I feel like this is another example of apathy towards rural communities. We get marginalised in favour of urban areas.”

The parish council has been supported in its campaign for the speed limit by Borough Councillor Chris Brown and County Councillor Paul Richardson.

Coun Richardson, who represents the Masham and Fountains ward, has warned that without the lower speed limit the village will see the situation worsen.

“The road through Baldersby St James, although a minor road, is of great strategic importance as it serves as a diversionary route for the AI and will become increasingly important once the A1 has been upgraded to a motorway. It is already a ‘rat run’ servicing schools at Cundall Manor, Queen Mary’s and Baldersby St James,” he said.

All three councillors said the village needs a lower speed limit to protect its vulnerable residents.

“Children at the school cross the road and walk 200 metres alongside it to get to their sports field. There are elderly residents in the village as well. One older lady who used to love going out for walks in her wheelchair but it got to the point where she and her husband were too frightened to walk down the road,” Coun Wainwright said.

The campaign for a speed limit in Baldersby St James began in the mid 1990s, and in 2003 a 40mph limit was introduced.

But in 2007 a petition was presented to the parish council asking for a lower 30mph limit, with a 20mph zone close to the school.

The case went to an area committee meeting in June 2008 and county councillors agreed to look into a 30mph limit, a county council spokesman said.

This month the matter was passed back to the area committee and turned down after objections from the police on the grounds that there is already good compliance with the 40mph.

However, the community has vowed not to let the matter rest.

“I don’t think this is going to end here. We are here to represent the villagers so we have to try our best to get the speed limit for them,” Coun Wainwright added.