Although Parliament is prorogued, and it’s frustrating to be less able to hold the government to account at such an important time, there are plenty of local issues to keep me busy. One that’s raised time and again in my coffee mornings, surgeries and on doorsteps is road safety.
With more cars on our roads, pedestrians and cyclists feel less safe. We’ve seen some horrific accidents and my sympathies are with anyone who is injured, and to the families who have suffered bereavement. People rightly feel that our roads present the biggest danger to our safety. There is more congestion on many roads, and frustrated drivers are more prone to try to make up time by driving faster when they can. We all see drivers who zoom up behind us as we drive at the speed limit, overtake when it’s dangerous, or express their frustration if you drive slower than 30mph in a town centre (sorry, but I do – 30mph is too fast where there are pedestrians). At the same time we’ve seen school crossing patrols cut and 800 fewer police and police staff in Derbyshire so our police have very little capacity for speed enforcement.
The lanes through our towns and villages were built for horses and carts, and buildings mean they can’t be widened, so road safety is an issue right across High Peak. Our roads are the responsibility of the County Council, but people come to me because of their frustration with the County’s lack of action on dangers. I do as much as I can to press for solutions, but I share that frustration. In 2017 the new (Conservative) administration at Derbyshire changed the requirement for road safety measures to a stretch of road which had seen at least 7 personal injury accidents in the last 3 years. The policy begs the question – are they waiting for someone to die before they will act? But shockingly, we have even been refused action at places such as Hope which have seen multiple fatalities. Yes, our councils have seen huge cuts under austerity, but many road safety measures cost very little. Residents have even been told that if they put up their own mirrors up to help visibility at junctions, County will take them down. Many town centres and villages would benefit from 20mph zones. Derbyshire claim they don’t work, but just over our border we see plenty in Tameside. I’ve been taking up individual cases all over High Peak – pressing the County Council for action, but usually seeing none. It’s no wonder people unsafe and frustrated.
I was campaigning for road safety as a parent before I was elected, and I’ll continue to do so now.