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'Parents and staff are terrified when it's icy', says boss demanding grit action on road to West Raynham nursery

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A nursery boss has accused county transport chiefs of ignoring years of concerns about a lack of gritting on the road past his premises in icy weather.

Nicky Gilkes, who runs the Blossoms Childcare Nursery in West Raynham with his wife Katie, has questioned whether someone has to be killed before action is taken.

But, despite community leaders also raising concerns, a senior official has warned it is likely another area would have to lose out if crews were to grit the road.

Nicky Gilkes (54261326)
Nicky Gilkes (54261326)

The row relates to the 2.63 mile Station Road from West Raynham to East Rudham, where it meets the A148 Lynn to Fakenham route.

The road is the main access route to the Blossoms site, which has 90 children on its books.

Mr Gilkes said that, over the past four winters, there have been 19 separate collisions on the road involving people travelling to or from the nursery which were caused by icy conditions, including three last Friday alone.

This map shows the road which campaigners say must be gritted on safety grounds (54261329)
This map shows the road which campaigners say must be gritted on safety grounds (54261329)

He added: “Parents and staff are terrified when it’s icy.”

Mr Gilkes said their landlord had offered to grit the stretch of the road which passes the estate where the nursery operates from.

He also claimed there had been previous assurances from Norfolk County Council, the body responsible for road matters, that the route would be included in future gritting plans.

In correspondence seen by the Lynn News, he described the road as an “irreplaceable lifeline” for people living and working in the area.

The Blossoms Childcare Nursery in West Raynham (54244855)
The Blossoms Childcare Nursery in West Raynham (54244855)

He added: “Several hundred adults and children are using this road every day.

“When will someone finally act, and arrange for this road to be gritted in icy conditions? Does someone have to die first?!”

The area’s MP, Jerome Mayhew, has also raised the issue with the authority following correspondence with Mr Gilkes, while the county council has also confirmed three parish authorities have previously voiced concerns about the matter with them.

Norfolk County Council gritting teams try to keep the counties roads clear over the winter period. A gritter heads out on a run.. (54261315)
Norfolk County Council gritting teams try to keep the counties roads clear over the winter period. A gritter heads out on a run.. (54261315)

But Karl Rands, Norfolk County Council’s highways services manager, said this week: “Over the last five years Norfolk Constabulary have only recorded two slight personal injury accidents on Station Road between East Rudham and the West Raynham Solar Farm (previously the RAF base).

“Whilst all accidents are regrettable this is a low overall number and would not lead us to intervene further at this time.

“We were contacted by Helhoughton, Raynham and East Rudham parish councils about this issue last year.

“However, due to limited salt capacity on the gritting vehicles and time constraints, it is likely that an existing road may need to be removed from the current schedule to accommodate any new request.”

Although Norfolk’s road network stretches to over 6,000 miles, little more of a third of it is gritted in cold weather.

A county council spokesman said: “Unfortunately, we cannot grit all of Norfolk’s 6,125 mile road network because of the time it would take and the cost involved.

“Priorities for gritting roads has been established over a number of years and is reviewed annually.

“Our three-hour gritting runs cover a total of approximately 2,200 miles on A, B and some C class roads, commuter and major bus routes, and as far as is possible one route into all villages.”

Although roads serving schools are prioritised for gritting work, routes which pass nurseries are not.

The spokesman added: “While it is unlikely that any additional roads will be added to our current schedules, people should contact their parish or town clerk if they feel there is an exceptional case.

“Although the County Council carries out the assessment in line with our Winter Maintenance Policy, the view of a parish or town council is important and is taken into consideration.”

Residents in the Lynn area should contact their local county councillor if they have concerns about gritting issues.

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