'A child will be killed on this road', warns worried Preston resident

A Preston man whose son was killed in a road accident more than 40 years ago says he fears a similar tragedy could happen right on his doorstep  – because drivers are using the estate where he lives as a rat-run.

By Paul Faulkner
Wednesday, 29th May 2019, 8:34 pm
Updated Wednesday, 29th May 2019, 9:34 pm
Gerry Downs wants to know why drivers find this sign so difficult to obey
Gerry Downs wants to know why drivers find this sign so difficult to obey

Gerry Downs, 75, lost his six-year-old son, Sean, when he was knocked down while the family was living in Bury during the 1970s. Gerry moved back to Preston shortly after the accident and has lived in the same house in Deepdale ever since.

But in recent years, he has become increasingly concerned about the safety of youngsters living nearby – and claims reckless drivers are putting their lives at risk by speeding through his estate and ignoring a “no right turn” restriction.

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Vehicles queuing to turn onto Blackpool Road from Romford Road, with some positioning themselves to make a right turn in spite of the signs prohibiting it

Gerry says Romford Road, behind Preston fire station, has become a convenient cut through for motorists accessing Blackpool Road to head towards the Deepdale Retail Park – in spite of signs outlawing a right-hand turn out of his estate.

“There’s no reason for them to come through here at all – they’re just trying to avoid a stretch of the main road and save some time.

“A lot of them race along as well – the limit is 20mph on the estate and most of the drivers who cut through are doing well over that.

“They’re blatant about it – they even indicate, but that doesn’t make it right.

'Give way' signs at the Harewood Road exit from the estate have bright backgrounds and are lit at night...

“I don’t want to see flowers tied to lampposts around here because a child has been knocked down – but there’s a real risk that will happen if something isn’t done,” Gerry warns.

The local democracy reporting service witnessed half a dozen drivers making the illegal manoeuvre in a 15-minute period on Tuesday afternoon. Others were seen correctly turning left – only to then turn across oncoming traffic to use a petrol station on Blackpool Road to make a u-turn.

Another resident, who did not want to be named, said motorists do not take any notice of the signs – or her own attempts to draw attention to them.

“I bang on the horn when I see somebody doing it – which is nearly every time I come past.

...while 'no right turn' signs at the Romford Road exit do not - although drivers do get advance warning of the restriction.

“I’m glad my children are a bit older now, because I’d be so worried about them otherwise,” she added.

Gerry claims to have repeatedly reported the situation to the police.

Lancashire Constabulary said the junction had not been highlighted as a major issue, but promised that the force’s traffic management team would “assess if the signage is being ignored”.

Gerry also wants highways bosses to make the signs at the junction of Romford Road and Blackpool Road – which were installed more than a decade ago – more prominent.

“Blackpool Road is an A-road and the signs at the junction with the estate aren’t lit at night and aren’t on a yellow background. Whereas the other exit from the estate is onto a B-road – and the “Give Way” signs which have been put up there have both of those features to make them more visible.

“But even if they changed the signs, I think people would still ignore them,” Gerry says.

“It’s going to take the police to enforce it – they’ve got the power to do something, I’m just Joe Bloggs worrying that somebody is going to be killed.”

Lancashire County Council was approached for comment.