ROAD safety campaigners are celebrating the end of a 20-year battle to stop motorists speeding through their village.

Villagers in Stapleton, near Darlington, have fought for measures to slow the speed of traffic through their community since the early Eighties, but their appeals to North Yorkshire County Council failed.

Councillors and residents say that motorists drive through the village at speeds of up to 70mph.

They warned that unless speed restrictions were put in place, someone would be killed.

The campaigners gathered in the village yesterday, as council workers put up 40mph speed limit signs.

Stapleton parish councillor Sheila Dodsworth, has spearheaded the campaign since 1981, and has presented three petitions to the county council.

She said: "At long last, we have won our fight to get a speed limit in the village.

"Drivers tear through the village and we have always argued that it should not take the death of someone before something is done. We have finally been heard."

Last May, the parish council presented a 121-name petition to the county council's area highways sub committee, which rejected campaigners' calls for a 30mph speed limit.

But councillors and police agreed to carry out a consultation exercise on the value of imposing a 40mph limit, which was then approved.

North Yorkshire county councillor for Richmondshire North, Councillor Michael Heseltine, said: "Hopefully, this will deter drivers from whizzing through the village at ridiculous speeds that could lead to tragedy. The speeders are either people who come off the nearby A1 road, or they are late for work, sometimes driving at speeds of up to 60 or 70mph.

"We couldn't get the go-ahead for a 30mph limit, but this is definitely a step in the right direction and will be welcomed by the entire village."

In 1984, Sir Leon Brittan publicly backed the campaign, in his time as Richmond MP, but police said a 30mph speed limit would be difficult to enforce because the road was too wide and too far away from housing