Road safety campaigner describes minister’s visit as ‘historic moment of progress’

ROAD safety campaigner Graham Chappell described the visit to March by Roads Minister Mike Penning – and of the county council’s decision to begin barrier testing near Bedlam Bridge- as an “historic moment of progress.”

Mr Chappell, founder of the Fenland Road Safety Campaign, has almost single handedly raised �5,000 which has now been handed over to the county council as a ‘down payment’ on the first barrier.

“There can be no question that the meeting with the minister has helped move things forward,” he said.

He believed a feeling grew during the meeting, organised with the help of MP Steve Barclay that “we may at last be on the verge of achieving the desired breakthrough in understanding with the council that we have been working towards for almost three years”.

His fund raising efforts will get a boost as the Cambs Times teams up with hotelier Rob Skoulding and March Lions for a charity race night on February 19.

Mr Skoulding, manager of the Oliver Cromwell Hotel, said: “I have met Mr Chappell and have been very impressed with his dedication to this campaign and I would like to give him support in a practical way by arranging a charity race night to boost funds and create awareness of the need for improvements.

“The amount of money we may be able to raise locally may not go very far in getting barriers but it’s a start- and a significant start.”

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He added: “I remember my father (the late Peter Skoulding) suggesting we put tyres along the side of the road as they have in Formula I to act as a barrier and stop cars driving into the river.

“I remember one objection being that the authorities didn’t want tyres floating down the drain. Better tyres than bodies.”

“My sister’s best friend died in the Sixteen Foot. She was travelling back from Friday Bridge and her children escaped but unfortunately she died before she could be rescued.

“I think the campaign deserves every support. The road has been crying out for improvements for many years and something should have been done before.”

Work started on Monday to test the ground for possible barrier installation near Bedlam Bridge, March.

Amanda Mays, accident investigation and prevention team leader for the county council, said: “We have got a company to do specific testing at that location to give us valuable, up-to-date information.”

The decision to test the soil follows pressure from the campaign set up following the death of school girl Charlotte Walker.



RACE night tickets, costing just �5, can be obtained from the hotel reception or from the Cambs Times office at 51 High Street, March. Light refreshments, donated by the hotel, are included in the admission.

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