By Tony Earnshaw | LDRS
Campaigners who want Huddersfield’s Castle Hill to be closed to traffic have renewed calls for a night-time barrier after four vehicles slid off a narrow access road during recent icy weather.
They fear someone could be killed.
And they have argued that the incidents prove that Castle Hill Side does not support modern traffic, providing evidence that Kirklees Council was “wrong” to approve the development of a new cafe on the hill.
Photographs obtained by the Local Democracy Reporting Service show four vehicles in trouble on the route up to the landmark, a 4,000-year-old neolithic hill fort that can be seen for miles around.
Now critics have reiterated their stance that, as access to the hill cannot be improved without damaging the area, accidents are bound to continue to happen.
Martin Kilburn, who is Chair of Castle Hill Civic Associates (an official offshoot of Huddersfield Civic Society), said four cars – two equipped with four-wheel drive – had slid off “dangerous” Castle Hill Side during recent light snowfall.
They came to a stop either down the banking or hanging precariously on the edge.
The accidents occurred in the same month that the council agreed to install a barrier “immediately” to prevent late-night access to the site.
West Yorkshire Police said it would monitor and safeguard the area until work is complete.
Kirklees Council was approached to comment.
Mr Kilburn said: “As if hard evidence was necessary, recent events clearly show just how wrong Kirklees Strategic Planning Committee were to approve the new development on the top of Castle Hill in October last year.
“The proposed access improvements are wholly insufficient to address the inevitable safety concerns arising from the significant increase in vehicles such a development will bring.
“The road cannot be made safe for volume traffic without major works, which would seriously damage the heritage site. “
He said locals considered the road to be both “notorious” and “extremely dangerous”, and that that opinion had been stressed in “numerous” planning objections.
The access is notorious, amongst locals, as extremely dangerous – a point stressed in numerous planning objections.
He added: “Does someone need to die before Kirklees Council listens to local people, stops pushing for a commercial development at the very top of the hill and takes action to close the road at night and during periods of poor weather?”
Mr Kilburn was supported by Clr Andrew Cooper (Green, Newsome), who has campaigned against late-night gatherings and anti-social behaviour on Castle Hill.
He said a barrier was needed “as a matter of urgency” and that arguments for one had “dragged on for far too long”.
He added: “It is not just because of the danger to vehicles in icy conditions but also because of the anti-social behaviour that goes on there.
“This is bad enough in normal times but during a pandemic these late-night gatherings should not be taking place at all.”
Castle Hill is the subject of a public space protection order (PSPO) imposed by Kirklees Council after a campaign by residents.
It bans fireworks, barbecues and flying lanterns on the site.