Community group continues campaign to improve safety along A632 between Chesterfield and Matlock – as father and husband of crash victims calls for action at public meeting

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A community campaign to improve safety along the A632 between Chesterfield and Matlock is continuing – after a man who lost his wife and son in a crash along the route called for action from the council.

A public meeting was held in Ashover on May 9, amid the Ashover Community Action Group’s (ACAG) campaign for improved safety measures along the A632 - after four deaths between August and December 2023.

ACAG have called for average and fixed speed cameras to be installed along the A632, which connects Chesterfield and Matlock, as it passes through Ashover Ward.

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A report issued by ACAG highlighted that 27% of drivers exceeded the speed limit on the A632 at Kelstedge between January 31 and March 7 - with a maximum speed of 145mph being recorded by one vehicle.

Councillor Helen Wetherall said that the Ashover community wants to see speed cameras installed along the A632.Councillor Helen Wetherall said that the Ashover community wants to see speed cameras installed along the A632.
Councillor Helen Wetherall said that the Ashover community wants to see speed cameras installed along the A632.

It also showed that, over a 25 year period, 50% of the total number of deaths on the A632 were concentrated between Slack Hill and Spitewinter - a 2.5-mile stretch of road along the overall 22.5 mile route of the A632. Over the same period, the group’s data also shows that 33% of serious injuries are concentrated between Slack Hill and Spitewinter.

ACAG added that Applications made by Derbyshire County Council (DCC) to the Government’s Safer Roads Fund have recently been successful for the A5012 and A5004. They said their data, however, shows that the A632 is more than twice as dangerous as the A5012 (for fatalities and serious injuries) and more than three times as dangerous (in respect of fatalities) as the A5004.

Angela Boyack, 59, and her son Stephen Boyack, 22, tragically passed away after a collision on the A632 at Span Carr on December 9. Their deaths were a catalyst for the founding of ACAG, and Billy Boyack - Angela’s husband and Stephen’s father - gave an emotional statement at the meeting. He paid tribute to his “caring” wife and “wonderful” son, before detailing the impact of their deaths.

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He said: “Although myself and my surviving son Alex are strangers to you all, I feel compelled to speak to you today. You see, on that day, our lives were changed for the worse forever. Whilst I can only speak of our experience, I am all too aware that other families have suffered loss and harm on this extremely hazardous stretch of road.

ACAG was set up after four deaths along the A632 between August and December last year.ACAG was set up after four deaths along the A632 between August and December last year.
ACAG was set up after four deaths along the A632 between August and December last year.

“I’ve written this so many times and cried so many tears. I can only hope that you might understand the indescribable impact this road has on ours and so many others lives. I am left to hope with what’s left of my broken heart that you’ll hear my words, see my pain, and get around to doing something to prevent others suffering as we have.

“On this fateful day, I lost my beautiful and caring wife Angela and my youngest son Stephen, the gentle giant and the epitome of a wonderful human being. I’m a simple man whose words cannot express the loss, pain, and the unbelievable heartache that I’m going through. After all he’s been through, Stephen deserved a life. All the bullying and hatred at school, from which he emerged a wonderful caring man - something I could never have achieved.”

Billy described the immediate aftermath of the crash, as he helped to pull Angela and Stephen from the car they were travelling in - and said he was worried that he might never forget those traumatic moments following the collision.

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“Etched in my memory is the mind-stopping severity of the collision that I witnessed first-hand, and my life as was, simply stopped in that instant. The vivid picture of Stephen’s car rolling back across the carriageway, having suffered catastrophic front-end damage, sits at the forefront of my mind. The shattered glass, the engine catching fire, the sheer panic - I am scared these are memories that will never leave me.

Billy Boyack, who lost his wife and son in a crash along the A632, spoke at last week’s public meeting and called for action.Billy Boyack, who lost his wife and son in a crash along the A632, spoke at last week’s public meeting and called for action.
Billy Boyack, who lost his wife and son in a crash along the A632, spoke at last week’s public meeting and called for action.

“As the case is not yet through the courts, I cannot go into the details of the crash. However, I think you all should know of the horror and trauma that it involved.

“Knowingly lifting your son with internal injuries out of the car which is catching fire. Doing this unaided and keeping my eldest son Alex from helping me, so if the worst happened, he wouldn’t blame himself for exacerbating Stephen’s injuries. To have to help the off-duty paramedic pull my dead wife out of the car and look into the sightless eyes of the woman I’ve loved for almost 40 years. I must own that, and I will for the rest of my life.

“After the collision I couldn’t think straight. It took Alex from stopping me doing stupid and potentially dangerous things, despite being broken himself. So how do I explain the impact, pain, heartbreak, and sheer desolation to our souls?

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“Every day I sit and cry, whether it’s a song, a sound, a smell or hearing of another fatal crash on the news. I no longer believe in God, even though I hope Angela and Stephen are there. I sit and tell Angela and Stephen so many times a day, that if I could go back in time, I’d do anything to swap places with them and I would.

DCC said they had taken the lead on improving road safety along the A632, introducing a number of measures.DCC said they had taken the lead on improving road safety along the A632, introducing a number of measures.
DCC said they had taken the lead on improving road safety along the A632, introducing a number of measures.

“I have come to realise that if I was dead, Alex would have to endure this unimaginable anguish alone for the rest of his life, and as a father and husband I could never do that to anyone - let alone my most precious family.”

Upon learning that the stretch of the A632 where Angela and Stephen died was nicknamed the ‘flying mile’, Billy said he found this difficult to process - and called for speed cameras to be introduced along the route.

“I do not live locally, however, we do have family roots in Derbyshire and we have spent many happy times in the Dales. I learned after the collision that the stretch of road where it happened is nicknamed ‘the flying mile’ - I found this hard to process. The name alludes to speed, recklessness, and racing. Nicknames are very often accurate reflections of how we as people find things, such as other people, physical items or places.

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“Knowing the road has such a nickname tells me it has a history, and not one to be proud of. It has a notoriety for good reason. The worst thing is we know about it, it’s there for everyone to see. It doesn’t need studying, it doesn’t need testing. The people have told us what it is, ”the flying mile”.

This road in its current form is a place where sadly all too often, common sense and decency seems to leave many drivers, and does so at an unacceptable cost to others and often themselves.

“I have spoken to police, councillors and residents. Between them, they provided a clear and coherent picture that this stretch of road has been the site of many collisions. Often, serious injury and death is caused to people on far too many occasions.

“I believe average speed cameras would be a good deterrent - this would surely take away the available gain of speeding and may well stop people making reckless and dangerous decisions. Or would providing locations for mobile speed enforcement vehicles not possibly help? Anything? Something?”

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Billy expressed his hopes that Angela’s and Stephen’s deaths would help to enact change - improving safety along the A632 and ensuring other families did not suffer the same kinds of tragedy.

He added: “As I said before, I’m a simple man, but a man who is all but broken.

“The only crumb of solace I can imagine is that if we can make sure Angela and Stephen are the last to pay the ultimate price on this road. That if their deaths were the straw that broke the camel’s back, that it is the moment the authorities decided to stop prevaricating, and stopped sitting on their hands and looking the other way.

“If it is Angela and Stephen that bring about change for the better and prevent others losing their lives and being seriously hurt, then they are still helping others after they are gone, which would be an apt tribute to them both.

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“We all know this road is dangerous - please do something about it.”

Councillor Helen Wetherall, who represents Ashover on North East Derbyshire District Council, is involved in the campaign to reduce the number of crashes along the busy route between Matlock and Chesterfield.

She said: “I sent our report to all of the officials and politicians that were coming to the meeting. I’ve had no response whatsoever, no acknowledgment, thanks, queries or amendments - it just went into a black hole.

“The report is very clear - there’s no argument to say that this road is safe. All the indicators say that it isn’t. The officers from DCC tried to tell us that speeds on that road were not excessive, and that they didn’t have any concerns about it. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.”

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“DCC said they thought they’d done a huge amount on that road. They have done some stuff, but it’s not working - the community has said that. They’ve reduced the speed limit and put all the hatching in, but there’s been four deaths since they did that.

“They were arguing that the road isn’t dangerous, it’s the people who drive on it that are dangerous. That’s the same on every road - that’s why we have to make sure that people who use the road are making the right choices, and if they don’t, that they’re being fined or prosecuted and lose their licences. They’re not enforcing it - the police cannot be there 24/7 and there needs to be cameras.”

Coun Wetherall also raised issues with some of the data presented by DCC - claiming that the authority’s figures included drivers who were slowing down to turn off the A632.

She said: “The council said their data showed that people keep within the speed limit. When people are turning on and off that road, they slow down, so when we looked at the data, it shows people doing 15mph - they’re the people who are turning.

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“You don’t use that to work out the average - they’re not travelling continually across that patch. We’ve confirmed that the council have worked out the average based on people who are turning off the road, doing 10mph or 15mph.”

Coun Wetherall added that ACAG were now considering their options going forward - which could include funding the installation of speed cameras along the A632 themselves.

She said: “The community afterwards, we were all shocked and deflated at the lack of commitment. It’s not like DCC are doing us a favour - it’s their statutory duty and there’s no acknowledgment at all.

We’re regrouping, and we’ve decided that public meetings are a waste of time - you just get obfuscation. We’re looking at what our options might be, working with local partners like Ashover Parish Council, North East Derbyshire and Derbyshire Police.

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“There are some schemes, apparently, across the country where communities have basically said, we’re going to install the cameras ourselves. We will need the highways authority’s approval. We’re investigating where those places are and we’ll learn from those groups.

“Another group in the community wants to pursue a legal challenge to DCC as the highways authority, over their failure to act on their statutory obligation.

“We know DCC hasn't got any money, but you can get hold of money if you’ve got the political will and leadership to do it - so now the community is going to take it into their own hands and get on with the job ourselves.”

Councillor Charlotte Cupit, DCC’s cabinet member for highways assets and transport, said: “We fully recognise concerns over speeding and dangerous driving on this road, which is why as a County Council we have been leading in taking action in terms of additional road safety measures on the route.

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“Given the importance of this issue and the need to work together with organisations such as the police to try to further tackle dangerous driving, it is disappointing that some local councillors are seeking to criticise. The focus should be on getting things done.

“We have led on a number of recent interventions on the A632. This includes reducing the speed limit, working with the local Parish Council to introduce flashing speed signs in Kelstedge, and carrying out work to the Span Carr Crossroads, particularly on the Alicehead junction where there had sadly been several collisions.

“These have been recent changes to improve road safety, following on from previous changes to junctions, the road layout and the installation of vehicle activated signage at other points along the route too over previous years. Together, these measures are indicating an overall reduction in average speeds but we continue to take this issue and concerns raised very seriously.

“Going forwards, we are looking to carry out further works at Span Carr Crossroads. This includes preventing vegetation growth on the Wingerworth junction verges to increase visibility and thereby also making the crossroads a clearer change of environment.

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“We are also encouraging the police to carry out further speed enforcement checks on the road, either through patrols or through committing to the trial police cameras the previous Police & Crime Commissioner had announced. We are also going to build a lay-by for the Police enforcement van to carry out speed enforcement on the road.

“In addition, we are writing to the Road Safety Foundation, who set the criteria for schemes such as the Safer Roads Fund and the provision of average speed cameras, to urge them to support such measures on the A632. We will continue to work with the Parish Council, local MP and police on positive and visible changes on this road to deter dangerous driving.”

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