Demand for £500,000 footpath over fatal accident fears on rural road

Residents Mick Smith, left, and Graham Ivison, campaigning for a pavement along Moor Lane, Cleadon.
Residents Mick Smith, left, and Graham Ivison, campaigning for a pavement along Moor Lane, Cleadon.

Concerned residents are demanding a new £500,000 footpath be built to provide safe access along a country road.

They want it on one side of Moor Lane, which runs past the renowned Boldon Flats nature reserve and links the south side of Cleadon with East Boldon.

It may sound like a lot of money, but it comes down to how much a life is worth

Mick Smith

Householders claim there have a been a string of accidents and near misses involving pedestrians and cyclists caused by cars – and fear the next incident may be fatal - although council bosses insist there is only a “very low level” of recorded road incidents at the spot.

As well as creating a safer passage, residents say a path would allow council refuse workers to access the stretch of 40mph road for ditch clean-up operations.

On safety grounds, roads workers are believed to not currently go further along Moor Lane than the Broadlands estate at Cleadon, the last housing before the wildlife zone.

Some householders claim this means discarded litter thrown onto the roadside and into ditches is rarely collected, leaving the beauty spot blighted by trash.

Their path bid has reached the desk of Jarrow MP Stephen Hepburn, who has written to South Tyneside Council’s chief executive on behalf of a Cleadon constituent to ask if the plan is feasible.

However, the proposal has so far hit a dead end, with council bosses saying there is no money available.

Broadlands resident Mick Smith, 61, said: “I work as a civil engineer and I estimate it would cost about half a million pounds to build the path.

“There are 56 properties on this estate, paying about £140,000 a year combined in council tax – that alone would pay for the path in just four years.

“There have been accidents involving cars and pedestrians or people on bikes, but a path would also allow council clean-up people to get there and get rid of the rubbish.

“It may sound like a lot of money, but it comes down to how much a life is worth.

“It’s a racing certainty that someone is going to get killed because there is no path to walk safely on.”

The dad-of-four and grandfather added: “We have been told by the council that the road is not safe enough for their workers to go down to clean it up, yet they are perfectly happy for residents to do just that.

“It is not just this stretch of Moor Lane that we are upset about, a lot of the sides of roads around here are not cleaned of rubbish by the council – it just seems an overall lack of civic pride.”

South Tyneside Council said it was not feasible to create a walking route, due to limited resources.

A spokesperson said: “We appreciate the concerns of local people and would like to assure them that the issue has been given careful consideration.

“Moor Lane is a narrow, unlit, rural road with limited space on either side.

“Rural roads by their very nature rarely have footpaths.

“Reducing the width of the road to mark a path would result in real safety issues for vehicles passing each other, particularly when travelling at speed.

“While the speed limit was recently reduced from 60mph to 40mph, lowering it even further would not be practical for such a road and would also require a number of costly additional measures, including a system of street lighting.

“It’s important to note there is a very low level of recorded road incidents at this spot.

“Due to the nature of the road, street cleansing and area maintenance work can only be carried out if a traffic management plan is put in place to ensure the safety of workers.

“However, we have plans to address this over the coming months and will also be installing an additional litter bin at the layby in the middle of Moor Lane.

“We will also consider what other action can be taken to help improve the situation.”