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Subway people still fear to tread

Reporter: Rosalyn Roden
Date online: 11 August 2017

THIS is the view along the eerie subway residents are fearing to tread.

Attacks, assaults and thefts are among the list of crimes committed at the Chadderton underpass and now fresh calls have been made for action to make it safer.

Flaws with the thoroughfare near Burnley Lane were first brought to light in 2004 by former Councillor Jeremy Sutcliffe.

His renewed cry for action in 2007 branded the Highway Agency, now Highways England's, "neglect of lighting" in the subway as "nothing short of scandalous."

In 2014, campaigners thought they had won their battle for better lighting in the subway after a woman was mugged and it was revealed that six out of ten lights didn't work. The Highways Agency pledged to repair them.

But those appeals have been echoed yet again by the family of a 12-year-old boy who was "jumped" from behind and punched in the face as he cycled along the route to buy sweets from a corner shop.

Police have had to close Harrison Dale's case because the offence, carried out by a group of three youths, took place in a CCTV blind spot.

GMP said they had done "as much as they could" during their investigation and said they hoped more information would be brought forward.

Mum Barbara Dale appealed for tighter security, improved lighting, CCTV cameras inside the subway rather than just outside, and for the smell of urine to be addressed. Further suggestions included building an overpass.

Highways England said they were not aware of any current maintenance issues with the subway which lies beneath the A663/Broadway but said contractors would visit the site and see "if any more needs to be done."

They pledged to raise the issue with Oldham Council, who in turn said they have been "promised new lighting for the subway."

Oldham Council said they are unable to fit CCTV cameras inside because the subway comes under Highways England's remit.

However they pledged to evaluate levels of crime and explore ways to address the problems.

Ms Dale, of Burnley Lane, said: "People need to feel safe in their community and not scared of going out to the shops or for leisure.

"The police have had to close Harrison's case as when they went to check the CCTV at the subway, it doesn't show anything as the subway entrance is a blind spot.

"There are signs either side of the subway which stipulate there is "image recording to reduce crime, improve our environment and ensure public safety" which is a bit of a joke when CCTV doesn't even cover the entrance to the subway.

"I hope something gets done and no one else suffers the same ordeal as Harrison did or worse."

Harrison had cycled down the subway ramp near North Chadderton Social and Bowling Club but as he turned into the underpass, he was assaulted by the group who stole his bike and mobile phone in the incident on Saturday, July 22.

A GMP spokeswoman said: "There is no CCTV footage as there is a blind spot for the camera where the offence took place, and there were no forensic opportunities.

"We tried to do as much as we could. If more information comes forward that would be brilliant."

Ms Dale said: "The incident has really knocked Harrison's confidence. My 88-year-old mum who also lives nearby changed where she collected her pension from because she was afraid of using the subway. A lot of people don't go under due to the smell, groups of youths hanging around under there and poor lighting."

In 2007, the Chronicle published a series of articles after then Chadderton councillor Jeremy Sutcliffe challenged Highways England over poor lighting, supported by both local MP Michael Meacher and councillor Dave Hibbert.

At the time, Highways said lighting had been subjected to repeated vandalism but said replacement lighting was installed as soon as they were notified.

Regarding the latest call for safety, a Highways England spokesman said: "We are obviously concerned and sorry to hear that someone using the underpass has been assaulted. We are not aware of any current maintenance issues including anything related to lighting but will ask our contractors to check. In the meantime, we will see if anything more needs to be done and will discuss the incident in one of our regular meetings with Oldham Council."

Councillor Barbara Brownridge, cabinet member for neighbourhoods and co-operatives, said: "Our deepest sympathies go out to the victim of this attack. No one should ever be subjected to such behaviour, particularly someone so young.

"The subway comes under the remit of Highways England which means the council cannot fit CCTV cameras to the inside. This has been an issue for some time and we have been working hard with Highways England to reach an agreement.

"We have just been promised new lighting for the subway. We will also be evaluating how much of a crime spot it is and exploring how we can work with partners to address this issue.

"Our Environmental Services department regularly cleans the area. We have a new machine due which will help further with the cleaning."

Comments

Unaware with issues with lighting are they? How can this be when I have been in correspondence with Highways England for many years and they told me last month that work on the lighting would start this month.
Highways England are treating the residents with contempt.
Take a look at the FB page Broadway Subway.
And complain agai and again the HighwaysEngland, Chadderton North councilors and Jim McMahon.

It needs sorting out ASAP.

That should be complain Again and again to Highways England.
However after emailing them this afternoon regarding this article they tell me that they have been out in the last two days and work on the lighting has started. It hadn't on Wednesday when I walked through

What a ridiculous state of affairs.
Who is responsible for the huge, mounted CCTV cameras, no doubt erected at great public expense, either side of Broadway, which appear to be neither use nor ornament?
Why haven't they been held to account? Surely, the shortcomings would be evident every time footage from the cameras was viewed? Why can't they adjust the cameras so they are of some practical use?

For goodness sake, OMBC DO something. Councillors, go and sit in HE's offices if you have to until they address this. Likewise the MP should be kicking backsides - why isn't he? It's been a danger for years.

5th largest economy in the world and we can't afford to turn the lights on on motorways either. Joke country.

I lived near that subway from the time it was built - when the link to the motorway went in. It was unsafe, stunk of urine most of the time, and litter was strewn everywhere even back then. I used to risk the traffic (as did many others) by cutting across Broadway and squeezing through the railings.

I left Chadderton for Canada in 1982, so that gives you some idea of how long the problem has been around. Things move slowly it seems.

Cllr Brownridge is wrong, the underpass is only cleaned on receipt of complaint, which I have done on several occasions.It is supposed to be cleaned fortnightly.
Currently the area is mired in glass particles making it impossible to cycle through without threat of puncture. The subway is sinister, smelly and dirty, and a regular haven for cannabis smokers.

Close it if it's such a dangerous spot and use the crossing at eustace st.

It,s not about the lighting it,s about law and order or the lack of it.
In a civilised society pedestrians would walk through without any lighting and fear nothing.
The government needs to take back control of our streets with increased Police, tougher sentences and more prisons.

The work has indeed started.

Gate at each end and access ONLY by I.D. Card that records time of entry and exit??? Can we afford that? The area should be patrolled regularly to clear out riff raff - there are Laws to prevent loitering with intent. Why have the Police closed the case instead of offering a reward for information????

 

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