FENLAND: Safety leaflets not distributed properly say safety campaigners

PUBLISHED: 11:16 27 March 2008 | UPDATED: 08:23 02 June 2010

CAMPAIGNERS claim that hundreds of leaflets distributed by a council giving advice on driving safely alongside Fenland s drains and rivers have never been seen by many members of the public. Organisers of a new road safety campaign say what happened to th

CAMPAIGNERS claim that hundreds of leaflets distributed by a council giving advice on driving safely alongside Fenland's drains and rivers have never been seen by many members of the public.

Organisers of a new road safety campaign say what happened to the Cambridgeshire County Council leaflets is a mystery.

Graham Chappell is behind the newly launched 'Charlotte's Way Fenland Road Safety Campaign' named after the nine-year-old girl who drowned in the Sixteen Foot Drain near Bedlam Bridge.

After carrying out his own extensive research, Mr Chappell said: "There was no memory of the poster and leaflet campaign at nearly all the establishments supposedly targeted. In a few some memory remains but in the handful of places where physical evidence of the campaign still exists, it is forlorn and inconspicuous, and does not have a hope in hell of impacting on driver awareness, anywhere other than in the minds of county council representatives who clearly do not have a clue."

Mr Chappell says sufficient publicity has not been given to alert drivers to the dangers and improve their safety.

The county council previously told this newspaper that posters and leaflets had been sent out to 1,300 establishments including parish councils, garages, doctor's surgeries, take-aways, entertainment venues and distribution companies in Fenland, Huntingdonshire and East Cambridgeshire.

But when Mr Chappell and other researchers visited locations in March, Wisbech, Chatteris, Ramsey and surrounding villages they found just two posters and leaflets in just two GP surgeries.

Mr Chappell said: "This much vaunted example of the county council's contribution to road safety in Fenland has hardly been a shining beacon of pro-activity and determination. At worst it has been a cynical PR stunt aimed at deflecting public anger and dismay at the council's chronic failure to address the most obvious road safety failing here, namely the lack of effective crash barriers along the stretches of road that run alongside our lethal waterways."

Mr Chappell said it would be interesting to find out if the council had kept a record of which establishments it had targeted and what their allocation of posters and leaflets was for each one.

A county council spokesman said: "These claims are without basis and Mr Chappell has not contacted us to even check how or why the campaign was run. We are not surprised that only a few leaflets were found as they were first sent out in 2006 and then five months ago to just petrol stations, doctor's surgeries and parish council.

"The fact they have gone shows the success of the campaign and we would expect them to be picked up by now or replaced by other campaigns. It is common practice in road safety education across the UK to run short repeated campaigns if not the messages become ignored. This was not just a council initiative but was fully supported by the emergency services and is likely to be run again this year.

"It was the first of its kind in the country and the leaflets were part of a larger awareness raising campaign that reached thousands of residents though the use of advertising, roadshows, the media and practical demonstrations. In fact since 2006 there has been a reduction in the number of accidents on Fenland drain roads.

"Reducing road accidents is a top priority for the county council and the best way of doing that is making motorists think about their driving. Saving lives is not about us and them it is a problem that we and the whole community must tackle together.

"We would be very pleased to discuss Mr Chappell's concerns about any aspects of our campaign directly with him and maybe use his suggestions when we re-run the campaign this year.


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