Grit call as cars smash hedges

Lancashire dairy farmer Jimmy Hull is calling for a re-appraisal on how county councils prioritise the gritting of rural roads in winter after nine cars in three months ripped through hedges and plunged into low-lying fields on his farm at Winmarleigh, near Garstang.

The Hull family spends several hours every week recovering vehicles for distraught drivers.

It is then left with costly repairs to fences and hedges.

The nine accidents – one involving a bus carrying children to a local school – have destroyed over 60m of hedge and fencing.

But Mr Hull says constant requests to Lancashire County Council to grit the road have been ignored.

The council says it is sticking to its ruling that the road’s “C” status means it is not required to grit the road.

“These rural roads are now busier than ever and the lack of concern shown by the council is typical of the low priority being given to services in rural areas.

“We’ve had to pull out four cars in the last few weeks.

Last weekend we spent three hours recovering a vehicle and if that wasn’t enough we ended up losing a lamb at a difficult lambing because we weren’t on hand to deal with it,” said Mr Hull.

The accidents occur along a one-mile stretch that connects villages and schools in the heart of the Fylde countryside.

Moss land along this stretch is lower than the road so that when cars succumb to icy conditions they plunge up to 10ft into the fields below.

“It’s only because we’ve always maintained our hedges that no one’s been seriously injured so far.

The hedges act as a crash barrier and take the full impact, but get destroyed in the process.”

Mr Hull is now charging car owners to recover vehicles, but has one claim for 550 going back three years.

“We won’t get it now unless we go to court and the costs involved don’t make that an option.”

A spokesman for Lancashire County Council said it couldn’t justify putting the road on the priority gritting list.