Heptonstall Traffic, Parking & Road Safety Group: Follow-up to the June 2013 traffic speed survey in Towngate and Smithwell Lane

Calderdale Council’s Highways Department were appraised of the results of our survey by email in early August and a meeting requested to decide what action might be taken to enforce the 20 mph limit.

Highways’ responded by email saying that no further action or meeting was needed on the grounds that:

(a) the higher readings were probably spurious (since the method of measurement can give rise to spurious readings when, for example two vehicles cross the tubes at the same time) and,

(b) the survey showed that the speed limit was, in the main, being adhered to.


In a further exchange of emails it was pointed out to Highways that:

(a) We agreed that most drivers adhered to the speed limit, our concern was with the danger posed by the 30+% who did not;

(b) Whilst we agreed that some of the very high readings might be spurious, it was unlikely that they all were, that such readings were consistent with anecdotal evidence, and that even if they were discounted it still left a large number of vehicles (albeit a small %) travelling at more than 30mph ie well above the speed limit;

(c) In the circumstances, effective enforcement required proper traffic calming measures rather than conventional police action eg full width cobbled road bumps at intervals along the street;

(d) The Community is seriously concerned that unless something is done there is going to be a nasty accident. This concern and the evidence presented was surely sufficient to justify at least a meeting to discuss possible improvements?


Despite these arguments Highways remains intractable. For the reasons given of budgetary constraint and the need to manage scarce resources according to priorities across the Borough, Highways have confirmed that “ there remains insufficient justification to pursue any works in the foreseeable future” and that “there is no benefit in holding a meeting when there is no prospect of action being taken in the current climate”.

So, where do we go from here? There seems little point in pursuing Highways further. Perhaps the speeding problems will recede with the re-opening of Lee Wood Road – although the problems pre-dated its closure ? Perhaps the current Calderdale Council initiative to introduce 20mph schemes in all residential areas in Calderdale will have a positive impact – although speed limits without effective enforcement might be seen as a toothless weapon? We (and the Parish Council) will continue to monitor the situation and will lobby our Ward Councillors and the Police to try to get action. We sincerely hope that we are not going to have to wait for an accident to happen before something is done.

In the meantime Calderdale Council intend to consult the public on their “plans to introduce 20mph zones in residential areas across Calderdale” (article on Page 8 of the Hebden Bridge Times, 10th October 2013). It is intended that the consultation will be carried out via their website and three public meetings across the Borough but as at 24th October the arrangements have not been announced.




One thought on “Heptonstall Traffic, Parking & Road Safety Group: Follow-up to the June 2013 traffic speed survey in Towngate and Smithwell Lane

  1. Disappointing , however what a nonsense that 20 mph does not apply throughout the whole village – take a look at Northgate – legally you can drive at 30 mph along it ! The proliferation of road signs is ludicrous as a result. Also young drivers particularly zoom along here with no care for the fact that front doors open directly onto their speedway, and pedestrians without benefit of a pavement have to evade them. Sorry ! in this village the car comes first, and Calderdale’s attitude bears this out. They feel that the cobbles on the main street are in themselves a “sleeping policeman” and no doubt would love to revert to tarmac – cobbles at one stage existed in Northgate – now a messy tarmacked road for it’s first part which encourages faster driving. The Parish Council do their best but nothing will change – jewel in the Crown is how Heptonstall used to be described to encourage tourism. Sadly tarnished these days unfortunately.

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