FENLAND ROAD SAFETY CAMPAIGN: A great team effort

PUBLISHED: 11:01 26 November 2009 | UPDATED: 09:24 02 June 2010

Having attended the A1101 Public Meeting, I want to thank Steve Tierney again, for the strength of his interest in, and determination to support, the achievement of a successful outcome to the A1101 Campaign. The monumental effort and tireless dedication

Having attended the A1101 Public Meeting, I want to thank Steve Tierney again, for the strength of his interest in, and determination to support, the achievement of a successful outcome to the A1101 Campaign.

The monumental effort and tireless dedication of the A1101 Blackspot Team was plain for all to see, as was the passion and frustration of so many local people who have been bereaved, traumatised, distressed and angered by the continuing disaster unfolding on this notorious stretch of road.

In some ways, I believe the outpouring of raw emotion and frustration had to happen. Opportunities for those most affected by road tragedies to really let Highways Officers and senior Council Members know what they think, feel, and want to happen to protect others from similar suffering, seem, in my experience to be far and few between, and may even be systematically avoided.

This is a great shame as, however difficult it may be for the Council Officers and Members to hear, it is often very helpful to those suffering loss or trauma to have that chance to express their anguish and views on how things could be improved.

The experience of actually being 'heard', by those who have the power to make a difference for others in the future, is not only cathartic but a significant aid to coming to terms with what has happened, as far as this may be possible. It can also give substance to real hope for the wider community in which we live.

It is a testament to the achievement of the A1101 Team, so far, that they managed to enable this to happen in the way that they did last night.

The courage of so many of those who have lost loved ones in attending and speaking last night also needs to be acknowledged. Sadly, for some it proved too much too soon, but others, who have carried their pain for longer were able to give their testimony with great dignity and powerful impact.

The courage of the Council representatives in coming to support the meeting must also be acknowledged. This is what we want from them, to engage as constructively and sympathetically as they can, to be dedicated, positive and creative in their efforts to find and apply solutions to the combination of environmental and driver behavioural problems present at Blackspots such as the A1101, to tell us the truth about what they can and cannot do, and to share our concern that what can be done, should be done, as soon as can be managed.

They have a whole county to be worrying about and to an extent it is necessary that those with more intimate knowledge of a locality have to do some of the work of raising awareness of specific local problems and this is why action groups such as the A1101 Team are so vital to the process, though it does beg the question, 'what is the role of the District Traffic Engineers and Officers, who might also have been able to inform senior colleagues at Shire Hall of the significant issues in their area, more persuasively and effectively than seems to have been the case with the A1101 and many other issues associated with roads, particularly in Fenland'?.

It has taken an inordinately long time for the A1101 to be taken seriously enough for meaningful remedial action to be taken, as it has with the notorious river roads, and we still have a primary school in Guyhirn where the speed limit on the adjacent road is 40mph.

There is a long way to go if the improvement seen in the rate of road fatalities elsewhere in the county is to happen in Fenland.

Thanks, very largely, to the efforts of local campaigners, the good things that we know our County Council Officers and Members are able to do, are beginning to happen on the river roads, and are tantalisingly close to happening on the A1101, nevertheless, the experience with the average camera system for the Forty Foot Bank, which was approved in County Council Cabinet in December 2006 but is still not installed, should be remembered.

With any major scheme there can be substantial delays. Even if the A1101 proposals are implemented to the September 2010 time-scale suggested by Chief Engineer, Amanda Mays, without further interim measures being undertaken to tackle the problems known to exist at this Blackspot, there is a real and high risk of further fatalities occurring before then.

They did try, with the red warning signs and road surface treatments, but clearly these are not effective enough at this location.

The farmer's offer to improve visibility by relocating the 'windbreak' provided by the trees on the bend and his clear statement of intent to do whatever he could to help, were both a relief and an inspiration, and rightly applauded at the meeting.

I hope that his sense of urgency about the need to do something that can make a real difference, now, whilst other more complex measures undergo 'due process' of unknowable length, will be shared by those within the County Council, who have the power to act, and that we will not be left wondering in a year or more's time, why something effective was not done, since we met on November 23rd 2009, to prevent the further accidents and deaths that followed.

Graham Chappell

Organiser

Fenland Road Safety Campaign (Charlotte's Way)

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