Road campaigners' hopes dashed

Saturday, 5 May, 2007

CAMPAIGNERS fighting for urgent road improvements in the aftermath of an horrific double fatal accident have had their hopes dashed.

A driver and his passenger were killed after their Fiat Panda was in collision with a 40-tonne lorry on the A143 at Great Barton, near Bury St Edmunds, on Thursday afternoon.

The latest fatalities on Suffolk's roads have prompted renewed calls for short-term improvements and ultimately a village bypass, which has been on the wishlist for decades.

But the demands from concerned residents and community leaders have been quashed by highways bosses who said any improvements would be dependant on plans to bring an Ikea depot to neighbouring Stanton.

Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley, whose constituency covers the village, last night urged Suffolk County Council to reconsider traffic management in Great Barton.

'This stretch of road is an accident blackspot as it is treated by many as a racetrack,' Mr Ruffley said. 'There have been so many near misses, collisions and now a dual fatality suggests Great Barton has a traffic problem.

'Of all the villages I represent in my part of Suffolk, the one which has the most fatalities and near misses is Great Barton and I will be writing to Suffolk County Council and the chief constable of Suffolk Constabulary asking for their urgent attention.'

Reg and Dallas Barnett, who own a cottage just yards from the crash site, have led calls for the 40mph speed limit to be reduced and traffic lights to be put in at the Bunbury Arms junction.

The driver and passenger, who were believed to elderly and from the Great Yarmouth area, died at the scene after the collision with a Daff lorry.

A second passenger in the car was taken to West Suffolk Hospital while the lorry driver, thought to be French, was uninjured.

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said the stretch of road had already been changed to 40mph and any further reduction was unlikely as the area did not have a 'dense population'.

'We are aware of the parish council's wishes for traffic lights at the Bunbury Arms and we have carried out some work to see if this is feasible. Unfortunately, giving the guidelines we have to adhere to, it is not a top priority at the moment.

'But we know there are some plans linked to the Ikea depot in Stanton. If this work goes ahead, there is a mandate that the junction would be signalled if there was more traffic from the depot.'

Paul Jacobs, acquisition manager for Ikea, said the company was aware of the traffic concerns in the community but that no decision on building the depot had yet been made.