Barnsley councillor calls for road safety scheme after speed camera vandalised

A Barnsley Councillor is campaigning for road safety measures on Doncaster Road, seven month after the road’s speed camera was vandalised.

Tuesday, 30th March 2021, 3:00 pm

Councillor Wayne Johnson says it is a “scandal” that no cash from speeding fines is available to replace a speed camera that was burned out last year – despite speeding drivers in South Yorkshire paying out more than £5.5 million in fines in 2019.

Cash from speeding fines – which local authorities used to receive to pay for road safety schemes- is now paid to the UK treasury instead.

The Independent councillor for Stairfoot says the issue of speeding on Ardsley Hill has been going on for more than 20 years, and is in an ongoing battle to have the speed camera replaced, or an average speed camera at the top and bottom of the hill.

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Councillor Wayne Johnson with the speed camera on Ardsley Hill, taken by Danielle Andrews.

The speed camera, opposite Ardsley Park, was burned out by vandals in August 2020.

After being contacted by residents fed up of drivers exceeding the 40mph speed limit on the dual carriageway, Coun Johnson tried to find out how a new camera, or other traffic calming measures, could be funded.

Although Barnsley Council has pledged a one-off payment for road safety improvements of £90,000, Coun Johnson worries this will not be enough for all the schemes needed in the borough.

The number of casualties killed or seriously injured on Barnsley’s Roads has been increasing since 2016.

All cash from speeding fines were ringfenced for local authorities to spend on road safety measures until Labour scrapped the policy in 2007, and replaced it with a general allocation to local authorities.

The Lib Dem – Conservative coalition abolished the grant all together – so now, any money collected from speeding fines is given back to the Treasury for general spending – which Coun Johnson calls “a scandal”.

“We, as local members, shouldn’t be scratching around for table scraps to get the job done”, he told the local democracy reporting service.

“The money is there, it’s being diverted into other things. The money the council gets for road safety would, in my opinion, address one issue in one borough.

“When we try to deal with this we get passed from agency to agency, we get told by the police it’s the local authority, the local authority tell us it’s the South Yorkshire [safer roads] partnership – it’s a central government issue.”

Councillor Chris Lamb, cabinet spokesperson for environment and transportation, at Barnsley Council said: “Speed enforcement is the responsibility of South Yorkshire Police. This includes the use of mobile and fixed speed camera sites across the Barnsley area. The fixed camera site on Doncaster Road was vandalised in August 2020 and through agreement with South Yorkshire Police, will be decommissioned and replaced with mobile enforcement.

“The history of vehicle collisions around the site shows that in the period between 2017-2019 only one slight injury collision has been reported within a 200m radius. In addition, only 93 offences were recorded by the camera in 2019 and 81 in 2020 (up to the time the camera was taken out of service).

“We have agreed with South Yorkshire Police that we will continue to monitor vehicle speed and collision data at the site, and should these factors increase, we will, of course, consider additional interventions.

“The recently introduced Neighbourhood Road Safety pilot is only one of the mechanisms being used to improve road safety across the Borough. The £90,000 available for distribution for local schemes is there to all Wards, and we have received highly positive engagement to date. All proposals will be scored following a pre-determined matrix, taking into account their overall contribution to improving local road safety.

“The £90,000 available under this initiative is in addition to the £639,000 proposed investment for the 2021/22 financial year. This wider programme continues the annual work carried out on collision site analysis, school safety zones, footway upgrades, speed indicator devices, vehicle activated signs and multiple traffic signal upgrades.

“Safety camera partnership will continue to conduct mobile enforcement on Doncaster Road and review the location each year.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Transport said: “The Department for Transport provides over £8.4 million per annum to the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority for small scale transport schemes, including safety measures.

“This is not ring-fenced, allowing authorities to spend their allocations according to their own priorities.”