2016

Tractor driver receives suspended prison sentence for causing death of pedestrian at Troutbeck Bridge

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A TRACTOR driver who caused the death of a pedestrian in a Lake District road tragedy has been sentenced by a judge.

Angus James Freeman, a 33-year-old farmer, appeared at Carlisle Crown Court today.

He pleaded guilty to causing the death of 59-year-old great grandmother Elaine Steele by careless driving at Troutbeck Bridge, near Windermere, on February 6 last year.

Holiday park worker Miss Steele, of Oxenholme, was walking on a pavement alongside the A591 when she was struck by Freeman’s five-tonne Massey Ferguson tractor.

She suffered severe head and neck injuries, and was pronounced dead at the scene.

The court heard Freeman had inexplicably failed to observe a “give way” sign and markings immediately before joining the A591 and striking Miss Steele.

But despite her heartbroken family wondering why, Freeman had no recollection nor explanation for exactly what happened on a route he used every day.

Having heard considerable mitigation on behalf of Freeman – a man of previous good character – Judge Barbara Forrester suspended a 24-week prison sentence for 12 months.

Freeman, of Town End Farm, Troutbeck, was also given a one-year driving ban and must pay £545 costs.

His lawyer, Anthony Haycroft, told the court: “Unfortunately this was a tragedy in the very true sense of the word.”

Westmorland Gazette, 8 August 2016

Oxenholme residents kept awake all night by ‘horrendously noisy’ engineering works

OXENHOLME residents have been kept awake all night for two weekends running due to ‘horrendous noise and vibration’ caused by works on the rail line.

Villagers described being ‘almost thrown out of bed’ in the early hours of Sunday morning as Network Rail engineers carried out noisy ‘pile driving’ on the track-side. The loud metallic banging awoke people on Helmside Road at 1am and continued intermittently until 5am. It marked the second Sunday in a row that residents had been woken up by the racket, with several leaving their beds to go down to the station and complain to the workers.

Helmside Road resident Stephen Warner said he had ‘never heard anything like’ the din in 22 years of living in the village. “We recognise that living next to a rail line and station brings some disruption and noise from time to time but this was beyond anything ever experienced in the past,” he said. Mr Warner’s wife Lizzii Nicholas said: “It’s not just the noise – the whole house was shaking and we worry about what it’s doing to the property foundations and the pipes.”

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Stephen Warner and Lizzii Nicholas in their back garden, overlooking the site of the noisy engineering works

Since receiving several complaints, Network Rail has written to residents confirming that piling work will take place again over the next two weekends, and could continue for an extra weekend on March 6. The letter, from Community Relations Manager Sarah McArdle, said: “Please accept my apologies for the lack of notification in regards to this activity – we aim to be a good neighbour and pre-warn communities of such noisy activity.”

The rail company said that the work could only be done outside of train travel time and that pile driving – the cause of the noise – was necessary to install new gantries. Residents have been told that the usual installation process was to place the gantries on concrete platforms, but workers have had to resort to piling due to flooding on one side of the line making it impossible to control the water in the excavations.

But Ms Nicholas said: “It’s not good enough – we should be told what times the pile driving will be taking place. “We understand it has to be done outside of travel time but why can’t they do the most noisy work between 10pm and midnight, rather than keeping everyone up all night.”

Another Helmside Road resident, Ellis Butcher, said: “Network Rail has failed spectacularly with its community relations and have undermined any respect we had for them. “People in Oxenholme love living next to a railway but surely the first rule of being a good neighbour is you don’t wake next door up at 3am on a Sunday. And certainly not two weekends in a row.”

Westmorland Gazette, Thursday 18 February 2016

 

Confusion over electrification of the Lakes Line

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The Lakes Line

CONFUSION surrounds the long-awaited electrification of the Lakes Line – as a new report could delay work until 2024. The line, connecting Windermere with the West Coast main line at Oxenholme, had been due to be electrified by 2017. Now, a document called the Hendy Review has prompted an announcement from Government that work will be pushed back to ‘Control Period 6’, meaning electrification will not be finished until between 2019-2024.

But a Kendal-based train enthusiast has cast doubt over the announcement, saying that the decision has been made based on incorrect information. Malcolm Conway, chairman of TravelWatch North West, said that the Hendy Review puts the Lakes Line in the same bracket as other railway lines, such as the Bolton to Wigan service, where electrification work has not yet begun. But Mr Conway says work has started at Oxenholme, with more scheduled for April and May 2016, according to the Network Rail electrification timetable. He feels it is unlikely that if those behind the Hendy Review knew about this they would be happy to allow the work already conducted to lay idle for what could be close to a decade. TravelWatch NW is attending a meeting in Manchester on February 18 with Network Rail to discuss the issue.

The electrification of the Lakes Line was initially agreed during the previous coalition government, when Liberal Democrat Transport Minister Baroness Kramer announced a £16m investment package in the rail network.

South Lakes MP Tim Farron is deeply unhappy about the Hendy Report’s revelations, criticising the impact it could have on the local economy and infrastructure. “The electrification of the Lakes Line is an important infrastructure upgrade which will provide a real boost to the local area,” he said. “It makes economic and environmental sense, and will enable the line to be better integrated with the main line routes. “There is a sense of déjà vu in once more making the case for this to happen – it was given the go-ahead by the Lib Dems in government, but has now been delayed by the Conservatives. Once again, much-needed infrastructure investment in our area is being overlooked by the government, but I will continue to campaign for this.”

Westmorland Gazette, Friday 12 February 2016

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