Cookstown councillor angry with PSNI and Road Service for ‘inaction on fallen tree’

Fallen tree blocking both lanes of Lawford Street, Moneymore
Fallen tree blocking both lanes of Lawford Street, Moneymore

A Cookstown councillor has blasted the PSNI and Road Service for “doing nothing” when a fallen tree blocked both lanes of a Moneymore Road last Sunday night.

Cllr Robert Kelly, who represents the Ballinderry area, told the Mail how, late on October 5 he was driving along Lawford Street when he came across a fallen tree “that had blocked the whole road, both sides - no traffic able to get up either way”.

“I phoned the emergency services,” he continued, “they told me that they would pass it on to Road Service, I contacted Road Service and they seemed anything but interested.

“I then phoned police, who informed me that they had had a number of phone calls regarding the same thing and that they would be coming on scene - the only scene there was - [was] that they were unseen.

“The people in the street were out flagging down cars to try and get them to stop before they would get to the tree. It was big massive tree,” he continued, “it had taken up the full of the road.

“The road service boy, he arrived, and he just took one look at it and said, ‘how the f are we gonna sort this out’.

“He told me then that it would be two hours before he would be back again - and in the meantime I took it upon myself to try and divert traffic away from the scene.”

Clearly angry at the reaction of both services, Cllr Kelly, continued: “No police ever arrived. I left this morning at 2.15am from the end of Lawford Street, I was diverting traffic and people were coming up to me in cars from Coleraine, Dungiven, Ballymoney not knowing where to go - the police never appeared.

“The conditions were extremely bad, the wind and rain - I was literally soaked doing a job that I consider the police should have been doing and at 6 o’clock this morning the scene was still the same - Road Service had still not taken any action.

“Somebody put up a road closed sign in front of the tree, which in my opinion didn’t make any difference - they put one on each side and those in turn blew away anyway.”

PSNI and DRD response

When asked about Cllr Kelly’s view of how the fallen tree on Lawford Street Moneymore was dealt with by the relevant authorities, a spokesman for the PSNI said: “Police received a report just before midnight on Sunday 5 October that a tree had fallen in the Main Street area of Moneymore.

“Police quickly advised the appropriate authority, DOE [DRD], of this.”

A spokesman for DRD said: “TransportNI were contacted just before midnight on Sunday, [and] a member of staff was on the ground to assess the situation at 00:30 and had “Road Closed” signs on either side of the tree by 2:00am.

“The tree was located within the 30mph limit and the road was signed with sufficient warning for the speed of the road.

“A diversion was readily available around the tree through Northand Drive and Fairhill.

“TransportNI, assisted by the council, had the road open again by 9:00am [on Monday morning].”