Youngsters have been scaling the banking of the former railway line where the bridge used to go across Barnsley Road, Cudworth, since November. Three buses and two cars were damaged before Christmas and, despite incidents quietening down over the new year period, 72-year-old Anthony Kitching’s Ford Focus was the latest to be struck at about 7.15pm on Sunday.
Local police have launched an investigation in a bid to find the culprits, but Anthony told the Chronicle that motorists’ visibility is obscured because the youngsters are way above the road.
“I was on my way back home to Cudworth as I had just picked my daughter up from Barnsley Interchange,” he added. “Barnsley Road’s got temporary traffic lights there due to roadworks and I went through where the bridge used to be and then heard several loud bangs.
“I couldn’t stop there and then as I was in moving traffic but the damage was bad, right down the driver’s side of my car. It’s shocking - all I was doing was driving home but it’s a good job those lights were there as I veered away and could have hit an oncoming car if not.
“I’ve been getting quotes for repairs and it’ll cost £1,300 if I go through my insurance, which will cost me my excess and increase my premium, as three panels need respraying.
“I’ve heard about this happening in recent months in Cudworth but measures need to be taken, whether it’s heightening the fencing or something else, to protect drivers going about their day-to-day business.”
A raft of work has been promised by Network Rail - the site’s owner - to restrict access after Barnsley Council, backed by South Yorkshire Police, wrote to express concerns over the goings-on.
Funding has been committed to provide anti-climb spikes and more secure fencing, but so far nothing has been fitted due to the nature of the works potentially involving a road closure.
Coun Charlie Wraith, who represents the Cudworth ward, said: “This was reported to the police and Sergeant Richard Wilson, who has a team based minutes away from where this is happening, will be increasing patrols as a result. However, they can’t be there 24 hours a day and the gentleman whose car was damaged on Sunday was driving along as normal and couldn’t see those responsible. It’s a frightening situation as we know it’s happened on multiple occasions, yet they still seem to be getting away with it. We’re lucky no-one’s been injured - throwing a brick into traffic, from height could kill someone.
“The planned work needs doing sooner rather than later - waiting up to six months is too long when you look at how many potentially deadly incidents have occurred on this bridge since the beginning of winter.
“CCTV is something we’re obviously keen on as I’m certain even those responsible wouldn’t be foolish enough to continue throwing bricks when they’re being recorded, but so far nothing has been done to improve safety.”
Sgt Wilson told the Chronicle that youngsters had been identified for engaging in antisocial behaviour in the village’s park - which culminated in a war memorial being damaged - and it’s believed the same group could be behind the brick-throwing attacks.
“The council and police approached Network Rail simultaneously regarding this as it’s something that’s dangerous and clearly needs to be stopped,” he said.
“There’s a vast amount of bricks and stones on the former railway line and if that ballast was removed, it’d effectively remove their ammunition.”
A spokesman from Network Rail added: “Safety is our top priority and we are committed to working with Barnsley Council and South Yorkshire Police to help them tackle this issue.
“Due to the relatively high cost and the necessity of road closures to implement, we estimate that a realistic timescale for implementation would be within six months.”