Long read: Campaign to slow down drivers using Farthinghoe ‘rat runs’

Farthinghoe Primary School head teacher Wendy Whitehouse and pupils with their Twenty's Plenty posters
Farthinghoe Primary School head teacher Wendy Whitehouse and pupils with their Twenty's Plenty posters

Fed-up residents are urging motorists to stop racing through their village as the world of Formula 1 heads to Silverstone this weekend.

As Lewis Hamilton and co will be reaching speeds of 190mph at the British Grand Prix, people in Farthinghoe are campaigning to slow down drivers especially on back roads with no pavements.

Farthinghoe villagers gathered in March after MP Andrea Leadsom backed a bypass for the A422

Farthinghoe villagers gathered in March after MP Andrea Leadsom backed a bypass for the A422

Hopes for a bypass have been disrupted thanks to Northamptonshire County Council’s financial collapse so villagers will have to put up with the rush hour traffic on the A422 for a while longer.

But school children are taking matters into their own hands with a simple message, ‘kill your speed, not me’, to warn speeding motorists who fly around the back streets to avoid the queues.

Farthinghoe Parish Council chairman Mick Morris said: “Despite the fact that we recently paid for a speed monitoring survey which supported our belief that too many cars are using our lanes as a rat run to beat traffic on the main road, we have been very disappointed in the lack of support that we have been able to garner from the county council.

“That the residents of the village are now taking matters into their own hands shows just how passionately we all feel about this very real threat to our community.

This shows just how passionately we feel about this very real threat to our community.

Farthinghoe Parish Council chairman Mick Morris

“There are only 160 dwellings in Farthinghoe; 30 of these are on Queen Street, the main street in question.

“However we have recorded over 1,820 vehicles a week using that one road.

“The council maintain that this does not mean through-traffic is using the route as a rat run.

“So why are so many vehicles cutting through the village, often at excessive speed?

“Their lack of concern is disappointing to say the least and we hope that this effort to raise awareness will give them cause to listen to our concerns.”

As the traffic inevitably builds each rush hour morning and evening, the number of vehicles using the quiet lanes of the village that run parallel to the A422 as a means to beat the traffic grows month on month at an alarming rate.

Campaigners fear that an accident is waiting to happen as the roads do not have pavements and are being used by children and their parents around the same time as motorists using the ‘rat run’.

They hope to use the British Grand Prix to raise awareness of the issue and convince the county council to at least introduce traffic-calming measures on the back roads, as well as building a bypass.

Poster contest by school pupils

Farthinghoe Primary School pupils have been designing posters urging drivers to slow down on the side roads of the village as part of the campaign.

As well as hopefully getting motorists to stick to the speed limit, head teacher Wendy Whitehouse believes it will give the children a greater awareness of road safety.

“As a school, through parents and staff, we feel that the traffic has increased on the main road and our parents that walk their children to school have seen an increase in traffic on side roads and are concerned at their speed,” she said.

“We’re committed to the children’s safety and because of the dangers of speeding, what we really want to do is get the traffic to slow down.”

Two posters from the competition will be chosen to be made weatherproof and placed around the village in due course.

For more information or to show support for the campaign, visit ‘Farthinghoe Road Safety’ on Facebook.

Council collapse raises bypass concern

The budgetary collapse at Northamptonshire County Council has left many in Farthinghoe despondent about the possibility of a bypass.

A bypass for the A422 around the village have been discussed since the 1990s as more and more traffic from both directions passes through.

The S-bend is of particular concern as lorries can touch as they pass each other while there have been many near misses at the traffic lights.

But the plans have been routinely pushed back and with the county council potentially being replaced after running up large debts, the likelihood of getting funding for the bypass is a worry.

However all hope is not lost South Northants MP Andrea Leadsom made a strong case for the bypass to the Department of Transport’s Major Road Network (MRN) review.

If the bypass is incorporated into the MRN, this could mean the government takes over funding for the whole project and it could yet happen, which Mr Morris is hoping for.

“It’s a difficult one to judge as it depends if your glass is half full or empty but the bypass is being delayed with no funding from the county council but Andrea Leadsom found other funding,” he said.

Mr Morris said they are expecting to hear back from the MRN review in August but even if they are successful, it would take eight to ten years before work even began on the bypass.

For now the villagers are focusing on slowing down drivers who speed around the side streets to avoid the traffic, which the parish councillor said is very tough to do.

“These drivers really don’t care about speed limits or safety when they are using the other roads as rat-runs so it will be difficult to stop them but hopefully we and the school children can make a difference,” he said.