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Victory for speed trap pensioner

A PENSIONER who was clocked four times in three days by Hyndburn's most notorious speed camera has kept hold of his driving licence after a legal battle.

DELIGHTED ... Rod McLennan celebrates keeping his driving licence.
DELIGHTED ... Rod McLennan celebrates keeping his driving licence.

A PENSIONER who was clocked four times in three days by Hyndburn's most notorious speed camera has kept hold of his driving licence after a legal battle.

Relieved Rod McLennan, 68, said this week: "I said I would have my day in court. This is a victory for common sense."

Rod feared losing his lifeline licence after being trapped by the speed camera in Whalley Road, Great Harwood, on three days last November. He was stunned when a batch of speeding tickets dropped through his letterbox, as he thought the flash from the camera was the sunshine hitting his car through the trees.

But he decided to stand his ground as he claimed he was unaware that the speed limit had been lowered from 40mph to 30mph. However, he did hold his hands up to one charge of speeding when he was caught doing 42mph. He denied three counts of speeding when he appeared before Hyndburn magistrates on Wednesday and the charges were dismissed. He was fined £60 with three penalty points for the other offence that he admitted.

During the case it was stated that the Crown Prosecution Service had decided not to pursue a number of cases against drivers caught between October and the beginning of December because the signs were deemed unclear. However, it is not clear whether this applied to drivers who paid fixed penalty fines without going to court.

Rod, who had just returned from a holiday in Singapore, lives on the Harwood Bar caravan park in Mill Lane, Great Harwood, and was driving to his local newsagents each time he was snared. He drove his Suzuki Vitara a short distance along Whalley Road and then turned into Hyndburn Road, meaning he missed the speed camera signs near Wilson's playing fields in Clayton-le-Moors.

Following the hearing he told the Observer: "This has been nine months of trauma. It's been hanging over me and I didn't know what was going to happen. I could have lost my licence for something I didn't even know about, as well as facing hundreds of pounds in fines. This should never have come to court really. I think it is some over-zealous official somewhere who has tried to justify his position."

The court heard evidence from witness Mrs Stephanie Furnell, who was clocked doing 35mph as she drove from her home in Shaftesbury Avenue, Great Harwood, towards Accrington.

She said: "I thought it was a firework going off behind me. I looked at my speedometer and, because I was doing 35mph, I thought I wasn't speeding. But when I got to Wilson's playing fields I saw a sign saying 30mph. I backtracked the next day to see if there were any more signs but there weren't.

"I phoned the traffic police and said this should be rectified or people were going to get caught unfairly. It took a few weeks before any signs were put up. I've lived in Great Harwood for 32 years and used that road for 10 years and it was always 40mph. You could drive round and round Great Harwood and never know the speed limit had changed."

PC Michael Pinkard, supervisor for the camera enforcement unit, told the court he wasn't certain when the signs went on display. He said: "It would have helped everybody greatly if signs had been placed in all the approach roads to show the change of speed limit."

The chairman of the Bench said: "We feel the signs should have been more substantial."


Stuart Pike
Deputy editor specialising in politics
Alex Bell
Bethany English
District reporter
Beth Abbit
Court reporter
Jon Macpherson
Kate Watkins
Reporter specialising in communities
Garth Dawson
Photographer and columnist