‘I’ll block the road myself if nothing is done’ – March man left fuming as town council refuse to support traffic calming measures on Hundred Road and Norwood Road

Mr Gilbert

Mr Gilbert - Credit: Archant

A March man says “I’ll block the road myself if nothing is done” in response to the town council’s refusal to support traffic calming measures on Hundred Road.

Mr Gilbert pointing to damaged wheel

Mr Gilbert pointing to damaged wheel - Credit: Archant

It follows a decision by March Town Council not to support a local highways improvement initiative led by county councillor Steve Count. He wanted to promote the scheme for Norwood Road and Hundred Road under proposals that allow up to £10,000 of county money to be used providing local councils contribute 10 per cent. The town council refused.

Mick Gilbert said the road, which has a seven-and-a-half-tonne weight limit, is a rat run and “total nightmare.

“We have young boy racers hitting the roundabout at 80 miles per hour – which has been reported to the police time and time again but nothing is being done about it.

“I’ve woken up at one in the morning because people are wheel spinning and drifting around the roundabouts.

Mr Gilbert on Hundred Road outside his home

Mr Gilbert on Hundred Road outside his home - Credit: Archant

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“We also have 40 and 60 foot vehicles coming down this road - despite it having a seven and a half tonne weight limit.

“It wasn’t made for this,” he added.

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“The road was never intended to withstand that kind of weight or the amount of traffic it takes now.”

Mr Gilbert added that the wheel of his three-week-old car was damaged after a lorry collided with him when he was driving up Hundred Road and into town.

“I had only just bought the car and it will now cost me £200 to replace it. So I’ve sent for a claims form for the council to pay it.”

A similar accident almost occurred the next day when his friend and neighbour Alice Moss was nearly hit.

“The traffic is definitely a lot worse than when I lived here,” she said.

“Earlier in the week a lorry was speeding toward Hundred Road near the top of Southwell Close/Norwood Road and it overtook a parked car and did not give way.

“It forced my friend onto the path. The lorry would have taken the side of the car out if my friend hadn’t have swerved.”

Miss Moss added: “I have had many near misses myself and it gets a lot worse later in the evenings with all the boy racers.”

Cllr Count commented about the refusal on social media describing it as “unbelievable.

“March Town Council is responsible for what is in my opinion a bizarre decision.

“That £10,000 was hard won and the speed survey showed 38 per cent of vehicles speeding on one stretch, with a top speed of 64mph in a 30mph zone.

“Sending that money back to be spent somewhere else in the county is unbelievable.”

Mr Gilbert said if something is not done by the council then he will take action into his own hands.

“There’s a reason why the council are not doing it. I think it’s because putting a chicane in will stop the lorries moving.

“It’s getting to the state now that if the residents don’t do anything about it, the money will just dwindle away.

“It just feels like you’re hitting your head against a brick wall…”

March town councillors called a special meeting to ratify their decision not to support Norwood Road/Hundred Road traffic calming measures.

It followed criticism by county councillor Steve Count that an earlier decision not to go ahead with the proposal “was not taken in a legal manner”.

Town clerk Clive Lemmon explained that “to avoid the possibility of any legal challenge, this extraordinary meeting has been called at the earliest possible opportunity to resolve the situation”.

The clerk emphasised that the earlier decision was lawful and that “the correct procedures had been strictly adhered”.

Cllr Count has been trying for the past year or so to secure £10,000 funding as part of a Cambridgeshire wide initiative to support local schemes.

But the arrangements have always been conditional upon the local town or parish council contributing 10 per cent of the cost.

Cllr Count began his campaign last year urging emails and letters to support “traffic calming measures to help reduce speeding and larger lorries impacting on the populations that live on Norwood and Hundred Road areas”.

But it has run into opposition from March Town Council; Mr Lemmon told councillors of a 16 minute phone call with county council project manager Matt Pickering about a traffic count conducted earlier this year.

He said Mr Pickering had confirmed “no speeding had been evident and because the number of LCVs and HCVs was so small, doubts concerning the proposed scheme had been raised.

“In consequence, it had been decided that a speed count survey should be undertaken to investigate further.”

The survey took place in July 2015.

The clerk said in three separate speed counts undertaken on the Norwood Road/Hundred Road area the levels of speeding were well below the national average of 45 per cent of motorists exceeding 30mph limits.

The town council felt they had sufficient ability “to fully understand the speed count results / raw data provided without external assistance, particularly taking into account the vagaries of statistical analysis highlighted”.

“Councillor Count’s assertions, in his e-mail to all councillors on September 16, 2015, that the March Town Council clerk and councillors were acting in an inappropriate manner and failing virtually all of the Nolan Principles were discussed and dismissed,” says the town council report of that meeting.

Councillors felt that there “appeared to be one unarguable point within the speed count results in that, although some speeding was evident, the average speed confirmed in all three areas was below the 30mph limit.

“The highest speed recorded was 64mph. However, this was exceptional and occurred in the early hours of the morning. This, on its own, was not considered sufficient to warrant a speed reduction scheme.

“It was accepted that there will never be any scheme that would or could correct the actions of an irresponsible driver.”

The council added: “It was noted that it would be highly improbable that the police would make resources available for speed checks in the area in question.

“After reviewing the pros and cons of the situation, and having studied all the relevant data, members present could see no compelling reason for a speed reduction scheme in this area.

“It was deemed regrettable that complaints from Councillor Count were likely to continue, but that all decisions had been taken on the basis of facts and common sense and certainly not on the basis of personality or a deliberate snub against Councillor Count.”

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