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The A47 - Concerns expressed

JANUARY 2015 UPDATE:-

The County Council Environment, development and transport committee has said that improving the A47 in West Norfolk is a priority, though ultimately it has decided to spend the £1 million at its disposal on improving the road in the east of the county.

However, the stretch of road between Tilney and East Winch has been nominated as the second tier priority for being dualled. But it may well be 2026 before improvements are made to Hardwick/Saddlebow/Pullover areas, and 2030s before dual carriageways in other parts of the road in the west of the county are built.

Whatever happens, nothing in likely to happen this side of the county until after the works announced late last year are completed; the expected date of completion for those works is 2021.

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FOLLOWING THE ANALYSIS OF THE REPLIES TO THE PARISH QUESTIONNAIRE, WHICH HIGHLIGHTED THE CONCERNS OF VILLAGERS ABOUT THE ROADS AND FOOTPATHS, PARTICULARLY THE A47,

THE CHAIRMAN OF THE PARISH COUNCIL HAS WRITTEN TO THE HIGHWAYS AGENCY.

The letter descibes the difficulties people have in crossing the A47 and the speed of traffic on the road - with a desire to see the speed limit reduced to 40mph  and the 50 mph limit extended eastwards to include West Bilney. For safety reasons people believe that a pedestrian crossing is required. The letter also highlights the increased traffic through the village, largely due to the increase in the number of employees at Adrian Flux Insurance.


The Highways Agency, in its reply accepts that the need to cross the road is inconvenient and introduces a hazard.The writer also says that footpaths in West Bilney and East Winch are provided where there is development; With regard to speed limits, there has been no change to the situation since July 2014, when the matter was last addressed, and at present there are no plans to upgrade this section of the A47.  

At the foot of this page see two files listed, in pdf format,  - the letter from the Parish Council to the Highways Agency and the reply.
You may read the full text of each of these letters by clicking on the name of the file or download it by clicking on the blue 'download' arrow to the right of the page.

Earlier letters, dating from 2014, may be seen by scrolling down the page.
__________________________________


Concerns have been expressed about the A47
,as it passes through East Winch, for very many years.

There has been some recent correspondence (Spring/summer 2014) between the Chairman of the Parish Council, Henry Bellingham MP, and the Highways Agency.

Below see a Highways Agency letter, addressed to Mr Bellingham, which follows up earlier correspondence from the Parish Council to Mr Bellingham which had been forwarded to The Agency.

Also, see below, a Parish Council letter addressed to the Highways Agency in direct response to its letter to Mr Bellingham.


Letter to Mr Bellingham from the Highways Agency:-


HIGHWAYS
AGENCY

Our ref CRS 706,960
Your ref: EH/HCB/East Winch/04/14


Henry Bellingham MP
House of Commons
London
SWlA CAA

Catherrne Brookes
2nd Floor
Woodlancs
Manton Lane
Bedford
MK41 7LW

Direct Line 01234 796287

16 May 2014

Dear Mr Bellingham

A47 EAST WINCH, KINGS LYNN


Thank you for your letter of 23 April enclosing correspondence from your constituent
Nell Steele, Chairman of East Winch Parish Council of 3 Southview Cottages, West
Bilney, King s Lynn, who writes about the 50mph speed limit on the A47 at East Winch.

Nell Steele makes reference to the fatal collision that occurred in March at East Winch. I regret we cannnot comment on the circumstances of this particular incident before the
Police have completecd there investigations and the Coroner's inquest has been held.
However. I can assure you that the Agency takes safety on the strategic road network
very serrously and if speeding proves to have been a factor in this particular incident
this will be taken into consideration when we look at future safety improvemont
schemes for the A47.

Speed limits are set by Department for Transport (DfT) guidance which states that
speed limits should not be set in isolation and are only one element of speed
management. lf a speed limit is set at an unrealistically low level, it may be ineffective and drivers may ignore it. With regards to reducing the speed limit to 40mph at East Winch, our records show there to be a low incidence of speed related accidents in the village.

We do recognise that the visibility from the east at the Carpenters'Arms PH does not
meet with current design standards but we do consider it as satisfactory bearinq in mind
the general nature of the A47. We therefore do not have any plans to make changes to
the trunk road here at this time. However, we are aware of a number of collisions
occurring at the Junction with Church Lane / Gayton Road where small improvement
measures may be required to address safety here - aithough it would appear that speed has not been a contributory factor in these incidents.

We regularly liaise with Norfolk Police and Norfolk County Council and meet with them
at the Safety Partnerships meetings. I will ensure the Police are made aware of the
ccncerns of East Winch Parish Council at the next meeting.

We are aware that some of the road markings at East Winch have become faded and Amey Highways Ltd, our Service Providers, will be carrying out remedial work as soon
as funding becomes available, although I am afraid this is unlikely to be before 2015/16

Yours sincerely


Catherrne Brookes
NDD East Regional Director
E mail : catherine.brookes@highways.gsi.gov.uk




Letter to the Highways Agency from the Chairman of Parish Council:-

Your ref:CRS 706,960
3 Southview Cottages,
West Bilney,
King’s Lynn,
Norfolk PE32 1JX

   
                                                                                            7th July 2014


Dear Miss Brookes,

A47 East Winch, King’s Lynn.

Your letter dated 16th May 2014  has kindly been forwarded  to me by the Hon. H. Bellingham.
I get the impression that you would rather sweep the concerns of East Winch people under the carpet than take any steps to improve road conditions for them.

A prime example of what I interpret as indifference is your attitude to the road markings. “Some of (them) have become faded” you write. Approaching the village from the east, the only visible part of the SLOW sign is one side of the O, and that is faint. The 50 roundel  marking is clearer, because it is more recent, but faded enough to lack impact. Coming in from the west, there are two SLOW signs in quick succession. On both, only half the O and half the L are visible. I would say, therefore, that all of them are faded, some of the most needed to the point of invisibility.

Furthermore, the Parish Council has been complaining about the faintness of the signs since 2011. On 7th November 2011, councillors heard that the Highways Agency had advised that repainting was “in the plan of work to be carried out, date unknown at this time.” It seems to me that the date was so unknown that it has been altogether ignored. Therefore we cannot be satisfied with a vague forecast of work to be done in two years’ time. We will need to know much more precisely, and preferably this year. Why on earth weren’t the signs repainted when the  surface was repaired in April and the central lines repainted? Clearly the need to repaint the signs had slipped off the radar.

Of course, the most important question for us is whether the speed limit can be reduced. I agree that there have not been many accidents where speed was definitely a factor, though there was an accident a couple of years ago involving a motorcycle and a car emerging from Church Lane, when the speed of the biker may well have contributed. Whatever the average speed, the perception of the people of East Winch is that traffic is scarily fast. It was, for example, impossible to recruit a school crossing supervisor after about 1995 – the job was simply too risky. And, while I never wished to suggest that the fatal accident in March had been speed related, I did think that, had the limit been lower (at 50 mph collision is at 100mph: at 40 mph; 80 mph), some of the three people in the car might have survived.

I believe that speed limits are reviewed periodically. When is ours next due for review?
You state that speed limits are set  by Department of Transport guidance. I have read DofT Circular 01/2006 and find the guidance imprecise. In Section 6, referring to rural speed management, the document says that it is government policy that village speed limits should be “lower” on upper tier roads where there are significant environmental considerations. At para 91 it concedes that “speed can also be a major factor in the severance of local communities from essential facilities and lead to a reduced quality of life.”

Dealing with environmental considerations first, the houses along the A47 in East Winch are built close to the road with small front gardens. Two at the corner of Station Rd are right against the footpath, which makes the junction harder to see. Only three larger houses stand further back. A slower flow of traffic would improve the quality of life for people who live there. The Carpenters Arms, once a quiet establishment, is now very popular and a significant number of drivers use it. The visibility, whether to the east or the west, is poor for people leaving the pub car park, and it is difficult to get onto the road safely.
East bound traffic does not tend to slow up until after the 50mph signs, and many vehicles will still be travelling at 60 mph when they are level with the staggered junction of Church Lane and Gayton Rd.

The A47, once a track that ran through a farmyard, does indeed prevent local people from using essential facilities. As you will have read in my previous letter, older people do not feel able to use the bus service if they cannot walk across the A47 quickly. The church congregation consists entirely of pensioners at present, and for the same reason they drive or stay away. Since nearly a quarter of the population was, at the last census, aged over 65, nearly a quarter is, or will soon be, vulnerable if walking and fairly vulnerable if driving.

To make matters worse, the footpath doesn’t connect East Winch and West Bilney; does not run the whole length of the villages on both sides of the road; and is poorly maintained, especially at the corner of Gayton Rd, where it is in a shocking condition.

The Post Office, soon also to open as a shop, the pub and the village hall are all on the north side of the A47, so the people living on the south side do not find it easy to use the amenities in the village.

There are encouraging signs that a bypass to East Winch and Middleton will eventually be built, but the key word here is “eventually”. In the meantime, this village needs a reduction in the speed limit for safety and for the quality of life of the people living here.

The Parish Council looks forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely,









Ċ
Web Master,
16 Jan 2015, 07:35
Ċ
Web Master,
16 Jan 2015, 07:34