Residents in a Newtownhamilton estate have hit out at “totally reckless” driving in the area after a number of incidents – including a drink driver.
Residents of Dungormley estate say that new traffic-calming measures need to be put in place before someone is “seriously hurt or worse”.
On Sunday night (November 26), a resident’s fence was destroyed by a speeding car which mounted a footpath in the estate.
A 29-year-old man was subsequently arrested and charged with driving with excess alcohol in his breath and failing to stop at, remain at and report an accident where damage was caused.
Just days before, a car was damaged outside St Michael’s Primary School while the car’s owner was inside working.
The chairperson of Dungormley & Lir Grove Community Resident’s Association told Armagh I that speeding in the area has always been an issue and the residents are “getting to the end of their tether”.
While conceding that a number of improvements have been secured in the area following the formation of the residents’ group five years ago, resurfacing of the roads means the speeding issue has “got far worse”.
She continued: “About two weeks ago there was another incident where a car was flying through the estate and it narrowly missed a four-year-old child. These kinds of things are happening all the time.
“We have asked for traffic-calming measures, we’ve been onto the police, we’ve been onto the Roads Service, we’ve been on to the council, you name it. We’re constantly having meetings with people and we’re just getting told we can’t do anything.”
She explained that much of the problem is down to motorists using the estate as a shortcut to avoid the busy town centre traffic, with it being especially noticeable in the evening rush hour.
“As the town gets blocked up, they’ll cut down through the estate, so we have an awful lot of issues with big lorries coming through… They’re coming through too fast and it’s like they just don’t be on the lookout for children.
“There wouldn’t be a massive police presence around here. I think they just know that they can fly through Dungormley and get out the road and nobody will see them.”
In years gone by, the Association installed large signs pleading with motorists to slow down, but even these did not work to quell the issue.
Ramps have recently been installed on the road to the local play park, which have made a “massive difference”. However, pleas for ramps throughout the rest of the estate have been largely ignored.
The chairperson added: “I do think the road through Dungormley needs some type of traffic-calming measures just to make people slow down a wee bit. Before somebody gets hurt. I don’t want to wait until somebody gets seriously hurt before they start thinking ‘maybe we need to do something’.
“There’s been so much tragedy on the roads, especially around this area. We don’t want anymore of that type of thing when it can be prevented.”
Micheal Connell, secretary of Dungormley & Lir Grove Community Resident’s Association, says the residents have been left “very deflated” over the issue, adding that drink drivers and those with no tax or MOT are common speeders through the estate.
He says that despite the “absolutely fantastic” work of local councillors, David Taylor and Aoife Finnegan, public bodies don’t seem to care. As Micheal puts it, “sure it’s only Newtown”.
He continued: “Our committee meets every three months with inter-agencies… We have all the evidence there’s been numerous car accidents in the estate. I had a classic car written off outside the house. It’s a case of, the way I see it, put up or shut up.
“I don’t think the police or the DfI are taking it seriously enough. We’re serious… I have shown the police videos of children near being mown down by tractors. It just feels like we’re waiting for a death to happen or a serious injury.”