Campaigner's vow to call out danger drivers on roads in North Kirklees

A dad-of-three leading a road safety campaign admits he is putting himself at risk by confronting drivers but says he won’t stop calling out offenders.

Thursday, 9th September 2021, 7:00 am
The ROAR action group holding a rally on Walkley Lane, Heckmondwike

Nigel Harnell, 44, one of the organisers of the Batley and Spen-based Reclaim Our Area’s Roads (ROAR) group, said taking a stand was the only way to bring about change.

Two weeks ago Mr Harnell spoke to two police officers sitting eating chips in their patrol car just yards from two cars parked fully on the pavement outside a restaurant on Commercial Street, Batley.

Then last Friday night Mr Harnell was in the same place walking down the pavement when a takeaway delivery car shot past him and drove 20 metres down the pavement before parking up.

Batley and Spen MP Kim Leadbeater with police officers at the ROAR action group rally on Walkley Lane, Heckmondwike

Although on his own, Mr Harnell took out his phone and started videoing as he approached the driver and three other men.

“I didn’t have any intention to do a Facebook Live that night but I saw a Range Rover mount the kerb,” he said.

“So I decided to have a walk down and take a look.

“As I was walking down a takeaway driver mounted the pavement round the back of the pedestrian crossing and drove 20 metres down the pavement.

“The driver was outside the takeaway so I started the Facebook Live but I didn’t want it to be confrontational.”

On the video Mr Harnell told the driver he’d almost hit him and asked what would have happened if it had been an elderly person.

The driver replied: “Because I saw you, I went round you.”

The driver said he only went on the pavement at night when Batley was a “ghost town”.

He added: “Everybody parks here now. That’s the new trend.”

The driver then launched into a rant about politics and the two men parted amicably.

However, after Mr Harnell returned to his car nearby and locked himself in, the driver – who had found out he had been filmed – confronted Mr Harnell and there was a heated exchange before Mr Harnell drove off.

Mr Harnell reported what had happened to Chief Insp Alan Travis, of Kirklees Police, and says the following night officers were out in Batley town centre speaking to drivers.

“There was a massive police reaction and I’m pleased the police have recognised the problem,” he said.

“It’s taken a few volunteers to kick them into action. I don’t want to be confronting drivers but it’s got to the point where someone has to do it.

“I could go out with three or four friends but then it looks like a vigilante group so I’ll keep doing it on my own.

I am putting myself at risk but maybe in six months’ time we won’t be doing it as much.”

Last Saturday ROAR held a protest on Walkley Lane, Heckmondwike, and had its biggest turnout.

Members were joined by Batley and Spen MP Kim Leadbeater and police, including two off-road motorbike officers.

This Saturday the protest will be on Oxford Road, Gomersal, at 5.30pm where there were two crashes over the weekend.