Time to turn speed cameras back on
So there’s a rise of almost 90 per cent in road deaths in the first full year since the speed cameras were switched off. The police don’t accept that the removal of the speed cameras is the cause.
First, I feel desperately sorry for the people who have lost their sons, daughters, husbands, wives, mothers and fathers. Road deaths are not just a statistic, they go on affecting families for decades afterwards.
Second, I understand that the causes can be many things – mobile phone use, alcohol, poor road conditions and the weather. However, as speed is clearly one of the contributory factors, and the one we can influence, why on earth don’t Northamptonshire County Council do what Oxford did when faced with a spike in road deaths and TURN THEM BACK ON?
The accidents that happened may not have happened in the immediate vicinity of where a dead speed camera is located, but when people know there are no working cameras and their chances of being caught speeding are small, they drive faster everywhere all the time.
The Conservative-run county council decided to turn off speed cameras, turn off half the lights and cut the numbers of police on the streets. Have these decisions led to the increase in road deaths? If one of those deaths was a relative of mine, I would be marching on County Hall.
What will it take for them to listen?
Sixfields Lib Dem FOCUS team
DEATHS ON OUR ROADS
So what is the reason for rise?
Not totally unexpectedly, the Chron reported that road deaths had gone up by nearly 90 per cent on the county’s roads in 2012, being the first calendar year since speed cameras were turned off and the Casualty Reduction Partnership disbanded. While the figures are shocking, I cannot say I was actually shocked by the increase, coming after four consecutive years of reductions.
What I do find shocking, however, is the apparent complacency of the police and the lack of any convincing explanation either from them or the county council, whose decision it was to turn off the cameras to save money. Deputy Chief Constable Suzette Davenport claims the police have identified various reasons for the increase, but your report says she “refused to criticise the decision to turn off speed cameras”. Why is that? I accept it could be because there is no hard evidence to show that turning off the cameras in itself led to this horrific increase in fatalities. Your report does say “so far, no common themes have been identified”. However, the increase in deaths was an astonishing and appalling 90 per cent in one year – 90 per cent! If that had been an increase in deaths from any other cause, there would be a public outcry, but as it is on the roads, then it is easy to blame “a variety of contributory factors including distraction, fatigue, excess alcohol, inappropriate speed, vehicle defects and weather conditions”. So, definitely not turning off the speed cameras then? And nothing to do with the disbanding of the Casualty Reduction Partnership? The increase in deaths was just “unfortunate”, presumably? And the turning off of street lights had no impact, either? So, if none of these factors apply, can we expect to see more police traffic patrols on the roads to halt the rise in carnage in 2013? I won’t be betting on it myself.
I also feel it was telling of her to lecture drivers by saying “it is the duty of every motorist to make sure they act responsibly while behind the wheel of their car”. Very true, but what about the duties of the police and the county council to try to halt the fatalities? Money may have been saved by turning off the cameras, but to my mind, an immediate increase in deaths of 90 per cent in one year cannot just be a coincidence, or a sudden increase in poor, irresponsible drivers on the county’s roads. If the turning off of the cameras had nothing to do with the increase in road deaths, why did we ever have the “casualty reduction” partnership in the first place?
N P Tweddle
Junction Road, Northampton
sale of sekhemka
Battle goes on to save statue
May I through your newspaper update the public on the subject of Sekhemka, a sixth dynasty Egyptian statue, which is part of an excellent collection of around 200 artefacts, normally to be found in Guildhall Road Museum and Art Gallery.
The consternation caused by the borough council wishing to sell the statue continues, and one would expect Sekhemka to be prominently on view so that visitors to the museum are able to judge for themselves what a beautiful and educative item we would lose. The statue is not on show because it suits the council very well that it should not be seen – they have no wish to draw attention to it or give people the chance to make an informed decision about the statue in a quest to make what they thought would be an easy £2,000,000. The security issues when the statue was on display were completely in order and this cannot be used as an excuse for not displaying it, neither can its value.
The council refuses to say where the statue is, all attempts in writing and in person to see Sekhemka are refused with a vague suggestion that the statue may be put on show in 2013. Despite this being a publicly owned object which we are entitled to see by appointment when not on show, access is denied. This has never happened before and is a high handed completely undemocratic attempt by the council to divert attention and interest from the public about the statue.
The council is still unable to provide documentary evidence of ownership and have given me conflicting reports about this. At the moment they are remarkably quiet on the subject.
I am part of the ‘Save Sekhemka Action Group’ fervently working towards saving the statue. We are greatly encouraged by the public support we are receiving and will not let this matter rest.
Harborough Road North, Northampton
Re-run the election for police chief
The point that everyone seems to be missing in the police commissioner debate is that 18,000 voters wasted their votes on an invalid candidate, the Labour representative, because they were unaware and probably still are, that despite having been a Magistrate for 10 years, because of a minor offence in his youth, he was ineligible to stand for election. This fact was known well before polling day, but nevertheless, his name was listed on the polling paper without comment. In my view, the whole process was a shambles and should be re-run, with a valid Labour candidate and all representatives giving an honest account of what they intend to do if elected. Mr Simmonds should stand down now, not in three years time!
K F Jarvis
High Stack, Long Buckby
Thank you for your kind donations
May I through your columns thank the people of Nothamptonshire for their generosity
in supporting our Rotary Club’s annual collection with Santa and his sleigh over the
Christmas period when the sum of £6,035 for Rotary good causes was raised.
Over the two weeks running up to Christmas the sleigh visited Roade (£302.44), East Hunsbury (£276.33), Abington (£259.12), Wootton (£403.24), Moulton Leys (£330.46), Hunsbury (227.33), Swan Valley (£449.12), Wellingborough Road (£425.51), Wootton Fields (£315.03) and Grange Park (£319.71).
In addition donations totaling £2,726.43 were received by Santa’s helpers at Morrisons Town Centre, Sainsburys Sixﬁelds and Rothersthorpe Services.
A big thank you goes to all those who were involved in bringing Santa to the boys and
girls and at the same time raising much needed funds to support the people of Northamptonshire.
More details of how this money is used can be found at our web site, www.rotarybecket.org.uk
President, Rotary Club of Northampton Becket
Monopoly got it wrong on Abington
I am writing to infom you of a complaint of mine, it is about the Monopoly Northampton edition.
I recently got this enjoyable board game for Christmas. Imagine my surprise when I opened it and discovered Abington Park as one of the cheapest properties. I was completely devastated!
The reason why I think Abington Park should at least be up in the greens is, I have lived in Northampton all my life and I have visited it thousands of times. Hundreds of children go there every day to either play on the equipment, feed the ducks or just muck about. I am sure (no, I am certain) that if you asked any young children which was their favourite park, they would not hesitate for a second before shouting out “ABINGTON”!
I don’t expect them to change anything but I felt the need to express my disbelief.
Kiera Caspall (aged 9.75)
Bougainvillea Drive, Northampton
New service will not be good enough
With work starting on the Fishmarket bus interchange there are still unanswered questions about the design of the building. There is concern that buses will not be able to get in and out of the interchange easily.
If so all traffic in, out and through the town centre will be held up by the resulting congestion. The most incredible fault in the design is that there is no provision for buses to park when they cannot get on to their departure bay or do not need to for 10 to 15 minutes.
The passenger waiting area inside the building does not seem large enough and may become seriously overcrowded at times such as the late afternoon when large numbers of schoolchildren are making cross-town journeys. There is still no information about what sort of shelter (if any) is to be provided for passengers waiting in the Drapery so those of us travelling to St James, Duston, Daventry and anywhere to the south of the town centre need to hope for better weather in 2014 than we have had in 2012.
I doubt that we shall receive any sensible response from most of our councillors or the consultants who designed the building. This building is not fit for purpose nor is it good enough for Northampton.
Mead Close, New Duston
Facts behind bus route issues
In response to the letter from S I Day, regarding vehicles used on routes 1 and 16.
Route 16 serves Northampton College in St Gregory’s Road en route to the Weston Favell Centre.
A double decker bus is used on that route to cater for the number of college students.
By the time the bus reaches the Weston Favell Centre, most of the passengers will have already alighted.
With regard to Councillor Michael Hill stating the First Bus operation in Northampton has declined, a member of our group who was in Norwich last summer picked up on what was about to happen.
First Bus Northampton has been up for sale since last May, where-as in Norwich they wish to up-grade their continuing bus service. They therefore have transferred vehicles between the two garages.
Northampton bus passengers have got the short straw with the older vehicles.
First Northampton is part of a regional structure that includes sister depots in Leicestershire, Worcestershire and Herefordshire, Staffordshire, Suffolk and Norfolk and Essex. The registered office in in Chelmsford, Essex.
First Group are issuing a rights share option to bolster their overall finances following the West Coast Mainline rail debacle.
The Office of Fair Trading would be unlikely to support Stagecoach taking over the First Bus routes, as this would leave Northampton with no alternative operator. The Competition Commission insists bus passengers have a choice of operator. This view has recently ben backed up by the Select Transport Committee.
Other towns in the county do have Stagecoach only bus services and have done so for decades.
We are still waiting to hear who is willing to provide bus services on these routes currently supplied by First here in Northampton.
Chairman, Bus Users UK, Northampton Group
Car park could harm archaeology
I fear Mr Iron, general manager at Delpare Golf Centre, knows little about battlefield archaeology (Battle Over Golf Club Expansion, Northampton Chronicle and Echo, January 10). Commenting on plans to expand car parking at the centre he suggests that this would not harm the battlefield at Northampton as ‘it would be done just by removing top soil’. But battlefield archaeology is by its nature found, more often than not, in the first 15-20 cm of top soil. Arrow heads, buttons, buckles, badges, early lead shot and artillery rounds from the battle could all be present in the very top soil Mr Iron is planning to see removed without any archaeological investigation. The distribution of this evidence can tell archaeologists and historians about what happened in the battle and is a unique and fragile resource.
In 1995, English Heritage designated the area planned for the car park expansion as part of the registered battlefield at Northampton. Registration means the battlefield is of national importance and the Government’s own planning rules – the National Planning Policy Framework – says that any development on such sites should be ‘wholly exceptional’. The borough council needs to take planning decisions which reflects this national importance.
Chairman, Mercia Region Battlefields Trust
Hospital staff gave great care
I am writing to heap praise on the whole team working on Robert Watson Ward at Northampton General Hospital. My daughter was a patient there for six weeks prior to Christmas when she was threatening to miscarry 29 weeks into her first pregnancy.
Care assistants, ward clerks, midwives, doctors, cleaners were all, without exception, wonderful, warm and professional (at all times). Her room was newly decorated and very clean, the whole ward was spotless.
So often the hospital gets bad press, we want to celebrate the good in these very challenging and uncertain times when even highly skilled professional’s jobs are at risk.
Well done, Robert Watson, from a very grateful nanny to be (mum discharged now and expecting the baby in 4 weeks).
I will of course write to the hospital to express our thanks also.
Rover Crew anniversary
The former Overstone Rover Crew is holding its 50th Anniversity Dinner this February. Any former members whose contact details have been mislaid can get the date and venue by contacting the undersigned for details
Hillside Way, Weston Favell