Council acts swiftly after two deaths in a month by agreeing an immediate £50,000 barrier for Fenland road

North Bank, Whittlesey. North Bank, Whittlesey.

Thursday, December 12, 2013
9:50 PM

A council has moved swiftly to improve safety on a Fenland road - which claimed two lives in a month - by announcing immediate plans for a 250 metre long, £50,000 barrier. Work will start on Monday.

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Protest over the North Bank river road, Whittlesey. Phil Yates. Picture: Steve Williams.Protest over the North Bank river road, Whittlesey. Phil Yates. Picture: Steve Williams.

The decision by Peterborough City Council surprised protestors who only three days earlier had staged a mass protest in the centre of Whittlesey calling for the barrier along the notorious North Bank riverside road.

Graham Chappell, founder of Fenland Road Safety Campaign (Charlotte’s Way), said: “Finally, the long awaited breakthrough has been made, and Peterborough City Council have agreed to install the safety barrier for which we have been campaigning for so long; it should have been in place years ago.”

The North Bank was closed yesterday while tests were carried out to investigate whether installing barriers was feasible.

It has since been re-opened but the temporary 40mph speed limit remains and motorists are advised to drive carefully.

Hannah YatesHannah Yates

It will be closed at a later date for the barriers to be installed.

Simon Machen, director of growth and regeneration at Peterborough City Council, said: “Our ground condition tests have confirmed that we can install barriers along the bend in the road and we are now working to install a scheme as soon as possible.

“The barrier will be around 250 metres long and will cost in the region of £50,000. “This will be a standard safety barrier used on roads across the UK.

“We will need to close the North Bank Road again to install the safety barrier and we will advise the public in advance when this will take place via our own website and through the media.

Protest over the North Bank river road, Whittlesey. Graham Chappell, Picture: Steve Williams.Protest over the North Bank river road, Whittlesey. Graham Chappell, Picture: Steve Williams.

“The temporary 40mph speed limit remains in place and as with all roads we would urge people to continue to drive carefully and safely.”

Hannah Yates, 18, drowned when her car plunged into the River Nene, which runs alongside it, on November 3.

Last Monday, the body of Keith Pettitt, 50, of Corby, was pulled from the river after his Skoda was spotted partially submerged.

Three other vehicles also went into the River Nene at the same spot two weeks ago in separate incidents and all eight occupants escaped.

Protest over the North Bank river road, Whittlesey. Colin Martin being interviewed. Picture: Steve Williams.Protest over the North Bank river road, Whittlesey. Colin Martin being interviewed. Picture: Steve Williams.

Campaigners, including Hannah’s father Phil Yates, have been at the forefront of the Whittlesey campaign.

Mr Yates posted an online tribute to his late daughter on the North Bank Facebook page yesterday.

He said: “In my opinion they should’ve been installed years ago, because one death is one too many. R.I.P Hannah x x”

Mr Chappell said: “There are still further details of the wider safety measure package that we want to ensure Peterborough City Council introduces to the road as a whole, which we hope to secure agreement on through the meetings today and on Monday, so our work here is not yet done.

“Today’s victory, though it is most welcome news, is bitter-sweet.

“The legacy of those recently lost, especially Hannah Yates and her family, and the amazing band of supporters who have joined the campaign in her name will be that no others should suffer in the same way, for the same reason, ever again.”

Colin Martin, a friend of Mr Yates and the founder of the Hannah Yates Memorial Fund and Facebook group, said: “I started this page for Hannah to help her family to help people to stop this happening again. This is just the beginning. We will not stop until the road is made safe.

“I am proud about what we have done together and just hope no one else has to go through what my good friend Phil Yates and his family and all other families have over the years.”

Cambridgeshire County Council leader Martin Curtis said: “Great news today. A huge step forwards. From my perspective this is part of the solution, not all of it.”

Steve Barclay, MP for NE Cambs, will be heading a delegation of councillors and residents to meet Peterborough City Council on Monday to discuss safety on the North Bank.

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