Villages discuss extra safety measures after Walsoken crash

Rev Allan Landall, Bridget Wall and Cllr Andy Houghton at a meeting to discuss safety measures on the A47 at Walsoken.
Rev Allan Landall, Bridget Wall and Cllr Andy Houghton at a meeting to discuss safety measures on the A47 at Walsoken.
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Concerned residents packed Walsoken Village Hall on Friday evening to discuss additional safety measures at the notorious A47 Broadend Road junction.

The extraordinary meeting of the parish council was organised to determine whether there was enough support to set up an independent committee whose purpose would be improving the junction.

MP Liz Truss attended, as did regional director of the Highways Agency, Catherine Brookes, and both spoke to the residents.

Chairman Fred Leach said the council has tried to get changes made to the junction over the years but were repeatedly told there was no funding or that the accident rate at the spot was lower than average.

“This council has, for many years, campaigned for more safety at the junction,” Cllr Leach said. “But it has become a bigger and wider issue than this council can take on.”

He added that an independent group would have more opportunities to raise funds and put in the work required to get changes made and people interested in joining up were asked to put their name down.

Liz Truss gave her support to the scheme and said: “Norfolk MPs have made the A47 a priority.”

She also backed a plea by Wisbech councillor Virginia Bucknor, who asked her to work with the Cambridgeshire MPs and called for some “joined-up co-ordination”.

Catherine Brookes went over what had previously happened with regards the Broadend Road junction and said previously money had been an issue. But thanks to additional funding from the Government, they were able to commit to making changes.

She said: “Short term solutions will happen this year. There will be vehicle activated signs on the A47 east and west that will be triggered when a vehicle is waiting to turn and additional no overtaking lines.”

But these changes are not good enough for local residents, who want to see a more permanent and long-term solution.

Cllr Brian Long said: “Vehicle activated signs are not going to keep idiots out of the middle of the road.”

Nathan Rose uses the junction daily and said driver behaviour is the main issue that needs to be changed.

He has seen two fatalities at the junction and suggested a ban on turning right across the A47 as a quick and easy change while a more permanent solution is worked out.

Lorry driver Len Priestly supported the idea of a roundabout, which had previously been ruled out by Highways. He said trying to get a 44-tonne lorry or a coach full of school children across the junction was a “very dangerous manoeuvre”.