Fresh calls for A143 safety improvements

Tuesday, 18 September, 2007

FRESH calls have been made for urgent safety improvements along a notorious Suffolk road after it was labelled one of the top five most dangerous in the county.

New figures released under the Freedom of Information Act reveal the A143 - which runs from Haverhill to the Norfolk border near Diss - has claimed the lives of 15 people since 1997.

Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley, who requested the statistics as part of an investigation into road safety along the A143, said the new information gave even more sway to the need for improvements.

'The A143 in Suffolk is a stretch of road that is repeatedly drawn to my attention,' said Mr Ruffley. 'These new figures reveal that it has, for the last 10 years, consistently been one of the most dangerous roads in our county.

'The only roads it has consistently ranked behind, in terms of total number of personal injury accidents, are major trunk roads such as the A12 and A14.

'Many of my constituents have made the case for improvements to the road. In particular many people living in the Great Barton area have argued that there is a need for a bypass around the village. In the light of these new figures their case has even greater urgency.'

The call for action comes just four months after Ernest Rowlands, 87, and 61-year-old Christine Barham, died when the Fiat Panda they were travelling in was in collision with a 40 tonne lorry along the A143 at Great Barton.

The tragedy became the latest in a long line of incidents along the road. Between 1997 and 2006 there were 559 accidents, 124 of which resulted in serious injury.

Reg and Dallas Barnett, who live on the edge of the A143 at Great Barton just yards from the scene of the latest fatal collision, said they fully supported any campaign for safety improvements.

'We have lived here for four-and-a-half years and although we have got used to the constant traffic by now, it is a very busy and dangerous road,' said Mr Barnett.

'I think everyone in the village would like to see something done about the road, before someone else gets hurt.'

Mr Barnett said he would like to see the speed limit along the road lowered to 30mph.

'At night you can hear the cars and lorries travelling past the house at around 60 or 70mph, because drivers think they will not be spotted,' he added.

'I don't think the bypass will ever be built but reducing the speed limit to 30mph seems like such a simple safety precaution to take and we cannot understand why it hasn't happened.'

Guy McGregor, portfolio holder for roads and transport, said road safety was of high importance to the county council.

But he said figures showed there were worse roads than the A143 in the county, when it comes to fatalities and collisions.

'It (the A143) is not as good as it should be but there are other stretches of road that have had two or three times as many fatalities,' he said.

'There are long-standing plans for a bypass around Great Barton but under present circumstances the Government is not releasing any money for rural schemes.'