COUNCILLORS have delayed a decision to cut the speed limit on a ‘dangerous’ road.

Families living on Whitworth Road say they ‘live in fear every day’ at the prospect of collisions on the stretch of highway just outside Spennymoor.

And concerns run so high that even plans by Durham County Council to reduce the speed limit from 60mph to 40mph were deemed insufficient to address the problem, with objectors calling for it to be lowered to 30 mph.

Steve Thompson, who has lived on Whitworth Road for three years, told the council's highways committee, that up to 13 crashes on the stretch of road near his home had resulted in cars being written off in recent years.

Speaking at a meeting on Wednesday, Mr Thompson said: “We’re the first emergency service on that road. We run out there when we hear something and we don’t know what we’re going to see. Luckily we’ve only met people in shock, but even meeting those people is traumatic.

"We put ourselves in danger trying to prevent further collisions and for the police to say those collisions are insignificant is incorrect – we live in fear every day, for us this is a matter of life and death.”

According to council highways officers, there have been just two accidents on the road in the last five years, including one on Christmas Day last year. But councillors on the panel criticised the method of recording road collisions.

A report for committee members blamed ‘poor driver behaviour combined with inappropriate speed as opposed to excessive speed’ and argued a 40mph limit was most in line with government guidelines.

Brian Buckley, the county council’s strategic highways manager, said: “It’s [the result of] an assessment carried out by highways officers and police looking at the environment and the speed measurements of vehicles using the road.

“Most drivers will drive to a speed they feel comfortable with.

“The police have said if you introduce a 30 mph limit you will get frustrations from drivers who don’t feel that speed limit is warranted and so will continue to disregard the 30 mph limit.”

Members of the committee voted to defer a decision on reducing the speed limit to allow them to visit the road in person.