A PARISH council chairman says his worst fears tragically came true after a young driver died in a crash on a village road hours into the new year.

Matthew James Longstaff died when the Ford Focus he was driving was involved in a collision with a Dacia Duster Laureate at around 12.40am on Wednesday, January 1.

The 21-year-old, from Bishop Auckland, died at the scene on Neasham Road, Neasham, near Darlington - directly outside Neasham Covert.

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After repeatedly calling for more to be done to make the roads surrounding the village safer, chairman of Neasham Parish Council, John Weighell, said his worst fears have come true.

Although the cause of the crash is not yet known, Mr Weighell has repeatedly raised concerns over the number of cars driving through the village at high speed.

The village has also seen a rise in traffic following the closure of the road bridge at Dinsdale railway station, as diversions take drivers along the A67 and A66, down Neasham Road and through Neasham village to Middleton St George.

“This has been waiting to happen, we are lucky to have gone this far without one (a fatality),” he said.

“We have been trying to get speeding in the village to come down for years but since the bridge works started in Middleton St George there are extra cars coming through the village. These roads are really bad and can get very greasy in the wet weather.

“We recently had an accident that completely blocked the village, it is getting really worrying now.

“As a parish council we have limited powers, we just want to see something done now. What upsets me most is that I cannot go any further.

“I just have to keep appealing for people to treat the roads with a little respect.”

He called for more action to be taken when people do break the speed limit, saying that, despite regular community speed checks taking place in the village, they are not enough of a deterrent for persistent offenders.

Chief Inspector Chris Reeves, of Darlington police, said more officers are set to be trained in using speed guns to catch and prosecute people who break the speed limit in the borough.

“For those people that are not taking notice of the speed checks, we would have the power to use enforcement if they are caught speeding,” he said.

Anyone with information on the collision is asked to contact police on 101 and ask for the collision investigation unit.