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CALLS FOR ACTION: “Dangerous” crossing to popular park prompts plea

CALLS FOR ACTION: “Dangerous” crossing to popular park prompts plea

Hartburn Lane, Stockton, near Ropner Park, Image: Google Streetview

A “DANGEROUS” road crossing to access a popular Teesside park has prompted fresh calls for action over fears it’s a “matter of time” before there’s an accident. 

Stockton’s Ropner Park has welcomed families and Teessiders in healthy numbers since the pandemic started.

But difficulties crossing Hartburn Lane to get into the Victorian idyll have seen pleas for a new crossing from Cllr Lynn Hall.

The Conservative member for Hartburn told the latest executive scrutiny committee the stretch featured an “important crossing point” – and wanted action from Stockton Council.

She added: “I just feel that needs to be looked at as a priority outside Ropner Park.

“During the pandemic people from every one of our wards have been using that park and it’s only a matter of time before an accident happens.”

junction

Hartburn Avenue and Hartburn Lane junction, Stockton, near Ropner Park, Image: Teesside Live/Terry Blackburn

Figures from the crashmap.co.uk database show there were seven incidents on the stretch on Hartburn Lane, including the Hartburn Avenue and Darlington Road junction, between 2015 and 2020.

The way smaller transport priorities were chosen in the borough was tweaked last year following a review by the place select committee.

This was designed to give councillors a chance to pool their ward transport budgets – of around £5,000 to £10,000 per year – to try and pay for larger schemes.

Bigger schemes are paid for from the council’s highways budget.

Councillor Lynn Hall

Councillor Lynn Hall, Image: Dave Charnley Photography

Cllr Hall told the committee Ropner Park had “been on the list” since 2015.

“We put bids in for it on the old system,” she said.

“Darlington Road was also on the list and the reason I didn’t get a crossing there was because the traffic was too fast – work that out if you can.

“It couldn’t have been a zebra (crossing), it has to be a pelican crossing – and it’s the same with this one.

“You can’t get pelicans as they’re too costly. There isn’t enough money in the budget to do it.”

She added: “There is a great problem on Hartburn Lane from traffic for both elderly and young people – it’s a dangerous spot.”

Cllr Louise Baldock

Cllr Louise Baldock, Image: Stockton Council

But Cllr Barry Woodhouse believed the bidding system for cross-ward transport measures was “dead easy”.

“If they (officers) agree, it will be done provided the finances are available,” he added.

“If they don’t agree, you can pay for it yourself or it won’t be done at all.”

Fairfield councillor Maurice Perry agreed something needed to be done on entrance to the park.

The independent member added: “It is dangerous with traffic going down that road – and all roads around the park.

“It is imperative that we do get a crossing there.”

It’s understood council officers are investigating the stretch following a request for a crossing on Hartburn Lane in July – with speed limits to be monitored.

Council documents also show a breakdown of estimated costs for crossings.

Zebra crossings are estimated at £20,000 while “puffin crossings” – which are similar to pelican crossings but have sensors – cost around £50,000 to install.

After the meeting, Cllr Louise Baldock said it came down to cost – with annual ward budgets often assigned to other projects, and schemes from the central fund prioritised on accident and incident data.

The member for Parkfield and Oxbridge said: “It’s probably not something we cannot afford to do locally is my guess – I don’t know though as I haven’t seen the result of the investigation yet.

“What we really need is for perhaps the Tees Valley Mayor, who has a transport budget, to give more money to the local authority to use for things like this.

“It would be really good to have a crossing which led into the park for cyclists and pedestrians – it would help our desire to have people more active and moving about.

“We all know that’s a difficult place to cross – but because local government is cash-strapped, the money pretty much follows the hotspots and it’s a tragedy we generally have to wait for people to be knocked down before we can do anything.”

Cllr Baldock added a light controlled crossing would likely be needed on either Hartburn Avenue or Hartburn Lane.

 

Words: Alex Metcalfe, Local Demcoracy Reporter


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