WISBECH: MP Henry Bellingham supports protestors who want A47 crossroads improvements

AN MP vowed to write to the transport minister in a bid to improve safety at a lethal Fenland crossroad after meeting more than 60 campaigners by the roadside. Henry Bellingham, MP for North-West Norfolk, was given a petition with hundreds of signatures p

AN MP vowed to write to the transport minister in a bid to improve safety at a lethal Fenland crossroad after meeting more than 60 campaigners by the roadside.

Henry Bellingham, MP for North-West Norfolk, was given a petition with hundreds of signatures pleading for safety measures along the A47 near Wisbech, at its junctions with Broad End Road, between Walsoken and Emneth.

But campaigners were left angry with a no-show from highways officials when they met Mr Bellingham near the accident blackspot on Monday.

Campaigners told Mr Bellingham action was urgently needed to slow traffic on the A47 so cars could negotiate the staggered junction where numerous accidents have happened in the last decade.

Those accidents include the one that killed 19-year-old Claire Stubberfield and 17-year-old Robert Hostler last year.

Suggestions made to the MP included the installation of average-speed enforcement cameras, traffic lights, a roundabout and traffic islands to stop vehicles overtaking.

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Mr Bellingham was also taken for a drive along the A47 several times by traffic police and, afterwards, called the junction a "death trap".

He said: "This junction was built to the standards of the day, but we are talking 25 or 30 years ago.

"Going along the road, the traffic officer pointed out to me so many problems with the junction.

"For example, there are broken lines along the A47 past the crossroads which means you can legally overtake on the junction, despite the Highway Code saying you should not."

Mr Bellingham added that he was "appalled" when he first heard the three-mile stretch of the A47 should be a single carriageway.

He also said: "I am going to be writing to the transport minister Ruth Kelly and make sure we get her support, and urging her to make sure it is given priority by the highways agency. It is obvious the junction has not been given the priority it should have been."

Hazel Thompson, one of the many safety protesters, handed Mr Bellingham an 18-page petition with almost 600 signatures when he visited.

She said: "We need to feel safe turning into and out of the junction but at the minute we just do not. We feel so unsafe that we have to head to the roundabouts and turn back on ourselves.

"We do not want the accidents; too many people have been killed. We have got to stand together and fight to get something done. If we don't, nobody is going to listen to us."

Floral tributes still lie at the junction in memory of Claire and Robert, who died on December 5 when their car was struck as they pulled out of Broad End Road onto the A47. A third teenager, Louise Read, survived the crash.

Louise's mother Kathleen Gunns, 43, said: "All we want is something to slow the traffic down so it gives people time to be aware of what is going on."

Campaigner Chris Read, 44, from Walton Highway, said: "There is no safe place to cross, and in the winter it is lethal.

"We understand there are budget restrictions and money has to come from the government, but how many more accidents and fatalities do we need before it gets improved?

"We hope the minister will hear the appeal. We do not want any more youngsters to lose their lives."

As Mr Bellingham met protesters, however, several people said they were angry with highways officials for not attending the meeting.

Their feelings were summed up by Irene Lockwood, the pastoral assistant at St Edmund's Church, Emneth, who said: "We are all pretty disgusted there are no highways representatives here."

n TWO Fenland councillors said a traffic light system like the one introduced at another blackspot earlier this year would be the ideal solution.

Councillors Roger Green and Les Sims were two of the more than 60 people who turned out on Monday to support campaigners calling for improvements to the Broad End junction with the A47 near Wisbech.

Cllr Sims, who is also chairman of Walsoken Parish Council, helped to officially open the road 20 years ago when he was the Mayor of Wisbech.

He said: "The quickest and safest solution is traffic lights like we have got on the way to March (at the Goosetree junction). They certainly work.

"A roundabout would be very difficult here, as it was there. Lorries would be waiting here because they will be coming from all four directions and will be stuck for ages. All this will do is tempt them to go on with the traffic still coming.

"And a lower speed limit - like 30mph or 50mph - will just be ignored."

Cllr Green, who lives in Walsoken, uses the junction regularly and said: "I think we learned the lesson from the Goosetree junction but traffic islands might also do the trick. If those are not financially viable, we need to look at speed restrictions.

"It also needs better signage - there is no warning there is a dangerous junction here. And it needs street lighting to make crossing the road safer at night.

"At the end of the day, something has got to be done."

n A MOTHER and daughter who attended Monday's protests told how they experienced first-hand the perils of the notorious crossroad earlier this year.

Julie Brooks and her mum Sylvia Dunsby were both seriously injured when their car was involved in a collision with a van on February 26.

Mrs Brooks, 39, of Emneth, was left with a broken fibula, broken tibia, a ruptured calf muscle and cuts and bruises.

She has suffered from deep vein thrombosis since the collision and was off work for five months recovering.

Mrs Dunsby, 73, of Elm, sustained a fractured sternum, two fractured ribs, a fractured ankle and bruising from head to toe.

Mrs Brooks said: "I was coming out of Broad End Road West (from Walsoken) and there were two vehicles travelling towards us, both indicating to turn into the junction. The road was clear the other side.

"I pulled out as the first car turned in, but a van which was following with its indicator still on, went round her and smacked straight into the side of my car.

"I was stuck in the car for an hour and had to be cut out, and I remember there was a threat I would lose my foot because of the severity of the damage to my leg."

Because Mrs Brooks pulled out onto a main road from a side junction, she was deemed to have caused the collision. She lost three years' no claims bonus and could not claim compensation as a result.

"I will not use the junction now," she said. "But if traffic lights were there in the first place the accident would never have happened."

Mrs Dunsby said speed cameras are a necessity along the A47 to clamp down on speeding.

She added: "There should be more warning signs and street lights. Ok, there is a sign pointing to Emneth and Walsoken, but it is not enough.