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Fatality warning over lorries on busy Fenland 'B' road




A former police officer has put a council chief on "warning" amid fears someone will be killed on a Fenland village road.

John Barnes, a retired CID officer, fears a fatality on the B1101 in Elm unless something is done about the "massive misuse" of the road by HGVs.

Mr Barnes, who has campaigned for improvements to the B-road which links Wisbech with March via Elm, Friday Bridge and Coldham, for over 30 years, says the situation is now even more dire.

John Barnes who is deeply concerned about number of lorries going through Elm and Friday Bridge along the B1101. (45598464)
John Barnes who is deeply concerned about number of lorries going through Elm and Friday Bridge along the B1101. (45598464)

He claims more and more heavy goods vehicles are travelling the 'back route' between the towns and wants urgent action to prevent either a death or serious injury accident.

He has lived in his property in the heart of Elm opposite the Low Road junction for over 32 years and claims he and his wife noticed immediately they had "inherited an accident blackspot" recording over 127 crashes both damage only and personal injury within the first few years of moving in.

Mr Barnes said campaigning and raising awareness of the issues along the stretch of the B1101 outside his home on Main Road at the junction of Low Road did prompt some remedial work, which did cut the number of accidents dramatically - although there are still at least two or three a year.

John Barnes who is deeply concerned about number of lorries going through Elm and Friday Bridge along the B1101. (45598466)
John Barnes who is deeply concerned about number of lorries going through Elm and Friday Bridge along the B1101. (45598466)

But he is now concerned that the increased number of lorries travelling along the narrow road will eventually lead to tragedy and he has written to Gillian Beasley, chief executive of Cambridgeshire County Council, to give her a "final notice" of the potential for a fatal accident.

Mr Barnes believes part of the problem of the lorries heading along the B1101 to March is down to the lack of proper signposting in and around Wisbech.

He said: "Part of the reason for the huge rise in lorry movements may be explained by the fact that in the entire town of Wisbech there is not a single traffic sign for March!

John Barnes who is deeply concerned about number of lorries going through Elm and Friday Bridge along the B1101. (45598462)
John Barnes who is deeply concerned about number of lorries going through Elm and Friday Bridge along the B1101. (45598462)

"The A47 by-pass lies between Wisbech and Elm yet on the A47 southbound the only destinations mentioned are Guyhirn and Peterborough.

"From Guyhirn an 'A' Road leads directly to March but it is not signposted until you get to Guyhirn.

"The very strange part about all of this road signage is that driving east out of Wisbech on the A1101 towards Outwell and Downham Market, only about 300 yards past the Elme Hall roundabout at the A47 and entering Elm, there are two very clear signposts in Norfolk directing traffic south through the village to March. The stark stupidity of this has now become clear to me after a troll round the town checking the advertised routes."

Mr Barnes believes many of the lorries are local and is unsure why they are ignoring the obvious route down the A47 to March in favour of the back road, but surmises it could be down to sat navs.

Many of the HGVs are also cutting through Wisbech from the A17 to head to March and Mr Barnes believes the lack of proper signage directing them to the A47 is adding to the issue.

He said: "I have witnessed numerous near misses outside my home. There is not room for two lorries to pass safely and I have seen them have to mount the pavement to avoid colliding with each other.

"This road is not designed to carry so many HGVs and something needs to be done urgently before someone is killed or seriously hurt. I fear the situation may only get worse if the incinerator gets built in Wisbech and there are 300 lorries going in and out of there a day."

A spokesperson for Cambridgeshire County Council said: "We are aware of the issues raised by residents in Elm regarding the number of HGVs passing through the village.

"In December last year, we approved the creation of a councillor working group to specifically look at how the council manages the movement of HGVs across the county’s road network, acknowledging that HGVs have a role to play in today’s society, supporting a range of services, but also that not all parts of the public highway are suitable for use by HGVs.

"The findings of this are expected to be reported back by the end of this year.”



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