Gallery: Fenland road safety campaigners take plea for targeted barriers on riverside roads to Roads Minister
ROADS Minister Mike Penning was in Fenland today to meet road safety campaigners calling for targeted barriers along some notorious riverside roads.
He told them: “In these difficult times we will give you as much help as possible. We will listen closely to what it is the community wants.”
Mr Penning said he had already helped by giving councils more freedom on how they could spend road safety budgets. He said: “The pot of money may not be as big but the ring fencing has been taken away. It is up to them to decide how it is spent.”
The minister first visited Chatteris and was given a briefing by MP Steve Barclay before talking to campaigner Graham Chappell who launched the Charlotte’s Way campaign after the death of nine-year-old Charlotte Walker in the Sixteen Foot Drain near Bedlam Bridge.
It was three years ago that Charlotte of Christchurch died when the car she was travelling in plunged into the icy waters. Also at the emotionally charged meeting was Charlotte’s father, Andy.
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Mr Barclay said he was glad Mr Penning had been able to come to the Fens. He said: “I don’t think you can beat physically coming to see these things first hand. The challenge we have locally is something over and above what can be ascribed to the local tax payer. No-one is suggesting we have barriers all along Fenland roads. You cannot take risk out of society.
“We have got to look at this as one of a number of tools. We need to look at the areas of highest risk and see where targeted barriers could help us. I think we have got to the stage where no action is not an option on this.”
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Mr Chappell and Mr Walker handed over a cheque for �5,000 to Cambridgeshire County Council. The money has been raised since the launch of the campaign and is intended to go towards the cost of a targeted barrier at Bedlam Bridge.
But Councillor Mac Mcguire, cabinet member for highways said he could not make any promises and would have to talk to officers about how the money could be spent.
He said: “We will come back to Graham when I have spoken to officers to see what is practical. This is a most difficult time for us as a highway authority, we are having to make very serious cuts.
“We do understand the concerns that people have and we will have to see what we can do. I will talk to officers and see if this money could be used in some sort of trial.”
Mr Chappell who says the cost of a barrier at Bedlam Bridge would be in the region of �8000, said: “I remain hopeful that the county council will take our lead. I have been very impressed with the minister and Steve Barclay has been brilliant.”
From Chatteris Mr Penning and his party left for Bedlam Bridge, A tearful Mr Walker said: “Their minds would be very focused on barriers if if they had lost a child in the way I did.”
Also at the meeting was Alan Kinninmonth who rescued two young children from the drain after a car accident in May 2007.
Mr Kinninmonth, described by Mr Penning as a ‘hero’ said: “I support the campoaign for targeted barriers. It is not some hair brained scheme that someone had dreamed up and that is what we need.”