'On their head be it' – Mum of driver, 20, killed on busy road hits out at tree-felling delays caused by protesters
The mum of a young driver killed on a busy Staffordshire road has hit out at the delays to safety improvement work caused by protesters. Staffordshire County Council had this week planned to start work – which included felling a mature oak tree – to make the A518 safer between Stafford and Haughton. But protesters calling for the tree to be saved forced the council’s highways team, which would have also installed high-visibility chevrons on the route, to postpone the work.
The council were prompted to make the decision to improve safety on the A518 following the death last year of 20-year-old Samuel Myatt, whose car left the road and hit a tree just 13 weeks after he had passed his driving test.
Now Samuel’s mum Liz Stanley, who campaigned for the safety improvements, said she is ‘extremely disappointed’ the tree did not come down. “I am also very concerned by the waste of money this will cause the public taxpayer due to the delay caused by these actions,” she added. “They were also due to put chevrons in place as well as remove the tree, so these protesters could potentially put someone else’s life at risk and if so, on their head be it.
“The council did not take this decision lightly and there have been numerous accidents at this point.” Helen Sefton, of Gnosall, was one of the protesters who gathered to save the tree.
The 57-year-old said: “The speed people travel at is atrocious. I feel really sorry for the lady who lost her son, it must be awful, but it isn’t the tree – it’s the speed which causes accidents.
“There are no traffic calming measures on this road. They absolutely should look at that instead of cutting down this brilliant and fantastic tree. Why doesn’t the council invest this money in speed calming measures instead?”
The county council was not deterred by the protest and will return at some point to complete the work.
Helen Fisher, Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member for Highways and Transport, said: “Following a fatal accident the county council spoke to four parish councils in the area and agreed a way forward to improve safety on the A518. “That work includes removal of the tree and installation of large high-visibility chevron signs indicating the bend. Safety remains our priority and we will remove the tree when we are able to do so.
“We will also be planting several trees to offset the loss of this one.”