Safety campaigner is hopeful 2012 will be the year first barriers go up alongside Fenland drain
CAMPAIGNER Graham Chappell is hopeful 2012 will be the year that the first barrier is installed alongside a Fenland drain as a “substantial aid” to prevent cars crashing into the water.
A fortnight ago he submitted a ‘highway improvement funding application’ which he hopes will persuade Cambridgeshire County Council to join forces to build the barrier.
Mr Chappell, founder of the Fenland Road Safety Campaign (Charlotte’s Way), is using the council’s scheme which allows community groups or councils to contribute to road improvement.
He wants the council to help fund a stretch of safety barriers on the Stonea side of Bedlam Bridge at the junction of Upwell Road and Sixteen Foot Bank, March.
Mr Chappell believes the barriers will reduce the risk of drivers or passengers drowning in submerging vehicles.
In recent years he has campaigned for improvements and says the campaign - with funds now in excess of �8,000 - has pledged a minimum of �5,000 towards a safety scheme. If necessary, he says, the campaign would go to a maximum of �7,500.
Estimates prepared by contractors show the likely cost of the scheme to be �12,000 and he is hopeful the county council will pay the difference.
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“Though river entry accidents arise intermittently when they do happen the risk of death by drowning is ever present,” he said. Mr Chappell launched the campaign following the death of Charlotte Walker in the Sixteen Foot Drain.
He says the Stonea side of Bedlam Bridge was the site of an extremely fortunate double rescue in May 2007 when two pre-school children were trapped in a sinking estate car.
Only the prompt intervention of a motorist whose van also entered the water following a collision prevented a double fatality at that spot, he says, and a safety barrier should, hopefully, prevent further tragedies.
The campaign – which now has charitable status - has won the backing of MP Steve Barclay who hopes the Bedlam Bridge scheme could pave the way for similar initiatives across Fenland.