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Barnfield residents urge Council to take action on dangerous roads

Residents who for many years have suffered from dangerous and illegal driving are pleading with Luton Council to introduce much-needed measures to increase road safety, after a bizarre decision to scrap vital safety works.

Traffic measures had been agreed aimed at preventing drivers turning right illegally into Elmwood Crescent and Wychwood Avenue, which many use as “rat runs” as they travel down Stockingstone Road and seek to avoid waiting at traffic lights at the busy junction with Old Bedford Road. But highways officers told a recent crowded Barnfield Ward Forum that they had decided to scrap the plan.

The decision to stop the work was agreed by Labour Executive member Don Worlding, despite a random survey by Council officers in December which showed that 162 cars and lorries turned right illegally into Elmwood Crescent in a single day during peak hours alone. This did not include any similar illegal right turns into Wychwood Avenue.

Consultations with residents last year found 434 in favour of the plan to improve safety, with just 123 against. In the two roads affected, 86 people were for, with 30 against.

At the ward forum, a local neighbourhood Police Sergeant confirmed residents’ experiences that vehicles cut across oncoming traffic in Stockingstone Road at speeds of 30 to 40 mph, causing serious hazards for other road users. He told the meeting that recent Police activity had resulted in up to 30 vehicles being stopped, warned or ticketed at the location in the space of about an hour.

The Council’s Central Area Committee agreed to refer residents’ concerns to the ruling Labour Executive. The issue will be considered on Monday 16th February at 6pm at the Town Hall. The meeting is in public, and residents are urged to attend.

Cllr Barry Neale, who chaired the Barnfield Ward Forum, says, “I’m angry that, after detailed consultation with residents, and following a meeting where Councillor Worlding agreed with myself, Martin Pantling and highways officers that these safety measures would be implemented, he’s changed his mind and scrapped the scheme without any explanation. Residents and Police have repeatedly highlighted the danger of drivers turning illegally into these two roads. We finally see what looks like a solution, and the Executive member scraps it. If he’s not there to listen to residents and look after their safety, what’s he for?”

Cllr Martin Pantling, who put residents’ views to the Central Area Committee, says, “I hope the Labour Executive and their officers will reflect on the concern expressed by residents, and on the views of the Police, and ask for this decision to be looked at again. Something has clearly gone wrong here. This problem has been going on for years, and as you can’t have Police stationed at the end of the road all the time it’s clearly a matter where the Council needs to do its bit to enforce the ban on right-turns and help to uphold the law. With traffic calming going in across Barnfield, this is the best time to do so.”

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