Tree felled in rush hour as gales lashed valley

DISRUPTION: The tree that blocked one lane of Bradford Road during high winds on Monday morning.

DISRUPTION: The tree that blocked one lane of Bradford Road during high winds on Monday morning.

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Strong winds brought traffic to a standstill on Monday as a tree crashed onto one of Spen’s busiest roads.

Winds of up 75mph blew through the valley on Monday and Tuesday, causing a tree to topple, blocking traffic heading towards Chain Bar, through Cleckheaton town centre. Buses, lorries and commuters were caught up in the delays.

It fell directly opposite the Aakash restaurant, also blocking the pavement.

The tree fell at the end of the morning rush hour, at around 9.30am, causing delays and tail-backs.

Spen police set up a diversion along Scott Lane, as workers from Kirklees Council Forestry Team cleared the debris to ensure it was business as usual for drivers by Monday lunchtime.

The Met Office warned motorists to check the latest weather forecasts before setting off, with exposed stretches of the M62 between Manchester and Leeds affected.

The Highways Agency also issued warnings to motorists about the gusts, which were caused by the remnants of Hurricane Katia which had battered America.

Nationally, the estimated repair costs are thought to be more than £100m, with buildings in Northern England badly damaged by the high winds.

A fallen tree in County Durham killed a hospice volunteer after it fell on a minibus he was driving on Monday morning.

More than 70 trees fell in Kirklees on Monday and Tuesday, the council said.

Traffic heading towards Cleckheaton, along Bradford Road, from Chain Bar was largely unaffected.

Spen police Insp Tim Holland praised his officers for their quick response.

“Although my staff are part of the neighbourhood policing team, they will always turn out for emergencies such as this,” he said. “It was good to see they reacted quickly and were able to put a diversion in place to minimise disruption for motorists.”