Council aims to halt HGVs
MEMBERS of the public are being urged to take down registration numbers of heavy lorries abusing the weight limit on the mediaeval bridge between Huntingdon and Godmanchester and report them. Details given to Cambridgeshire County Council s trading standa
MEMBERS of the public are being urged to take down registration numbers of heavy lorries abusing the weight limit on the mediaeval bridge between Huntingdon and Godmanchester and report them.
Details given to Cambridgeshire County Council's trading standards department could lead to prosecution of drivers who abuse the 7.5tonne weight limit on the weak 14th century bridge that has just been repaired after a lorry sent tonnes of stone tumbling into the River Great Ouse in November 2005.
The restriction applies to the plated weight of the vehicle, whether or not its load means its gross weight actually exceeds 7.5tonnes.
Godmanchester residents are becoming increasingly angry with HGV drivers, many from continental Europe, who ignore the weight limit and risk serious damage to one of the oldest structures in Huntingdonshire.
Councillor Carol Godley, who represents the town on Huntingdonshire District Council, told The Hunts Post: "This is happening more and more, especially when there are problems on the A14.
"When this situation arises, it is like a lorry train passing through Cambridge Road on to The Avenue and over the bridge. Sometimes we even get the HGVs along the Causeway, although there is a weight limit on London Road.
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"The Highways Agency told me that it is a company called Carillion that put up the diversions signs along the routes of the trunk roads when needed. Carillion says the HGVs are not diverted through Godmanchester: they are sent along the A1198 to the A428. They blame sat-nav," Cllr Godley said.
"The police can stop lorries, but very often do not have the manpower to do this, and I was also told they do not divert traffic through Godmanchester."
She said the county council's HGV experts blamed a combination of foreign drivers' ignorance of English and British road traffic law, wilful refusal to comply and satellite navigation systems that ignored weight limits. But they hoped the problem with sat-nav would be sorted in the coming year.
"There are also plans ahead for a Bill that will enable the police to extract a deposit for breaking the law (in some cases) and, if the driver (from a foreign country) does not return to court, at least he or she has already paid the fine," she added.
"If anyone sees an HGV going over the bridge, take the index number and report it to trading standards, as they have a scheme called 'Lorry Watch' and they will take the necessary steps that could end up in a prosecution if no good reason is given for disobeying the signs."
A county council spokesman urged members of the public to report registration numbers of vehicles they believed were ignoring the weight limit, with dates, times, direction of travel and a brief description of the vehicle to enable trading standards to identify the registered keeper.
An initial warning could be followed by prosecution if the offence were repeated.
The council will also be monitoring Huntingdonshire District Council's CCTV footage of the bridge, from which images can be used to support prosecutions.
The Highways Agency said it was looking into placing additional signs on the A14 westbound exit slip road towards Godmanchester, warning HGV drivers of the weight restriction.
CONTACT: To report heavy lorries using the bridge ring 01954 284635 with details.