Todmorden campaigners step up safety call

The junction where the weir structure is at Longfield Road and Rochdale Road, Todmorden
The junction where the weir structure is at Longfield Road and Rochdale Road, Todmorden

Campaigners are stepping up their call to have a historic structure moved for road safety reasons.

Todmorden Accident Prevention Council has written again to Calderdale Council asking that the historic structure, at Fielden’s Square’s junction with Longfield Road and the main Rochdale Road, be relocated after receiving reports of incidents where pedestrians have almost been hit by vehicles.

They claim pedestrians using the dropped kerb to cross Longfield Road and motorists turning off Rochdale Road have a “blind spot”.

Calderdale had said it would address concerns when they were first made last year but the campaigners have renewed their call after hearing of two narrow escapes there, one experienced first hand by Todmorden Town Councillor - and a member of the accident prevention council - Coun David O’Neill.

For its part, Calderdale Coujncil says the issue has been fully investigated to ensure the positioning of the structure is safe.

Coun O’Neill says he and his wife Susan were using the dropped kerb to cross on Saturday, December 14,

Coun O’Neill said he had previously noted the issue but what happened that day convinced him first hand that there was a potentially serious problem. Both were very aware of traffic and crossed roads with care, he added.

“We had just stepped out into the road and a car came round the corner. Where the drop-down kerb is you couldn’t see. As soon as you step out and look to your right you can’t see what’s coming off the main road.

“I was in the right place to stop but it was a blind spot. I reported back to the accident preventiion council that it’s an accident waiting to happen. If I had taken two steps out, it would have wiped me out,” he said.

Coun O’Neill says the other incident was related to him by a nearby shopkeeper who saw a close shave when a mother pushing her child in a pram in front of her had a similar experience when another vehicle stopped inches from them, the driver of the car being visibly shaken by what could have occurred.

The accident prevention council feel frustrated in the reponse they are receiving, but Calderdale Council’s Head of Planning and Highways, Geoff Willerton, said the situation had been checked out.

“We regularly assess the safety of all our sites and we’re always looking for ways to improve safety on Calderdale roads.

“From the outset we’ve had safety in mind in the positioning of this structure.

“It was sited at Fielden Square after consultation with local interested parties, including Todmorden Civic Society, town councillors and residents.

“We always take concerns into account if they are raised, and we’ve thoroughly investigated the positioning of the structure to make sure it’s safe.”

As part of the third phase of the Environment Agency’s Todmorden Flood Alleviation Scheme, the cast iron sluice structure - part of the famous Fielden family’s Waterside Mill - discovered from the weir at Shade was moved to Fielden Square, where it is now a heritage feature due to its historic significance.

The weir structure is a historic reminder of Todmorden’s development as a cotton town through the 19th century.

When uncovered, the EA were asked if they could make a heritage weir using some of the existing stone and put it in an appropriate location as a monument to the industrial past. It was unveiled in 2013.