'Nobody would want more deaths to trigger a safety barrier' says campaigner about a forgotten stretch of Fenland riverside road
PUBLISHED: 15:11 13 March 2019 | UPDATED: 13:03 16 March 2019
A road safety charity set up 11 years ago in the wake of a river drowning has offered £10,000 to help to provide a "forgotten corner" of the Fens with safety barriers following two deaths.
Graham Chappell, Fenland Road Safety Campaign Charlotte’s Way, said: “Some might see it as only two deaths from 1994 to 2017, but that’s two too many.”
A “forgotten corner of Fenland” is how he describes Honey Farm Bend, on the B1098 Sixteen Foot between Chatteris and Manea where a young mum died in a submersion accident in 1994 while her baby was pulled to safety.
In the other, a 54 year old woman died while on her way to a car boot sale in Wimblington 2017.
Mr Chappell’s charity is donating £10,000 towards a barrier campaign while Skylark Garden Centre is donating money from its summer attraction, the Maize Maze.
He has enlisted the support of Wimblington and Stonea parish council as well as Christchurch and Manea parish councils who have promised £1,000 each from their local highways fund.
Fenland Leisure Products at Christchurch has pledged financial support.
Mr Chappell is negotiating for other surrounding councils and businesses to add to the funding pot and plans to submit his bid to Cambridgeshire County Council in June.
“I’m hopeful Fenland District Council will appropriately support this bid also,” he said.
“Nobody can possibly wish for further loss of life to act as a trigger to push for a safety barrier,” he said.
Mr Chappell is so committed that he is also working as a gardener and handyman in return for donations to the road safety charity.
“The 22 degree angle towards deep water at Honey Farm is as sharp as two other sites in the Fens where I’ve successfully campaigned for barriers following fatal river submersion accidents,” he said.
“Problems are much more likely at bends and junctions. You only need to momentarily lose focus. If a bend is next to deep water it can be fatal.
“I travel the road regularly and even I find Honey Farm bend can take you by surprise, by how sharp it is and quick you come up on it.”
Mr Chappell began campaigning following the death of nine year old Charlotte Walker of Christchurch in a river submersion accident near Bedlam Bridge in 2008.
His campaign led to barriers at the bridge near the collision spot and then at North Bank, Whittlesey, where teenager Hannah Yates died in 2013.
Mr Chappell also discovered the Ramsey Forty Foot barrier was missing its vital tension bolts and ensured this was remedied.
He also pressed for the end of delays to install speed cameras along the Forty Foot from Chatteris to Ramsey where six people died in river immersion accidents in a twelve month period, including a seven year old boy.
• If anyone is interested in fund raising contact the campaign on 07505-726475.