CALLS for safety measures have followed the two most recent tragedies alongside the Ramsey Forty Foot Drain. Councillor Ray Powell, who serves on both Huntingdonshire District and Ramsey Town Councils and who has long been critical of the standard of dri

CALLS for safety measures have followed the two most recent tragedies alongside the Ramsey Forty Foot Drain.

Councillor Ray Powell, who serves on both Huntingdonshire District and Ramsey Town Councils and who has long been critical of the standard of driving on Forty Foot Bank, demanded the installation of speed cameras on the straight waterside road.

Calls for safety fencing have been dismissed in the past because of the instability of the embankment separating the road from the watercourse.

Cllr Powell said: "The answer is in the hands of motorists to go steady. The road is well marked with an abundance of warning signs. If people ignore them, it's on their own head.

"But a camera might bring a sense of reason. I have asked the town clerk to include the matter on the agenda for the next meeting of Ramsey Town Council."

That stretch of road has claimed five lives in six weeks, and three fatalities in the previous 10 years, Pc Mick McCready, the county force's casualty reduction officer, said.

But he was sceptical that safety cameras or barriers were the answer. "How many cameras? Where would you put them? What happens if someone over-reacts to a safety camera?" he asked.

Barriers, even if feasible in engineering terms, would be very expensive, potentially diverting scarce resources away from other schemes that could save more lives elsewhere. But he would not oppose their installation if the highway authority judged it sensible and cost-effective.

"The answer is to drive sensibly," he told The Hunts Post. "If people kept to the speed limits and were more patient, we would have no problem.

"The 50mph limit is there for a purpose. The river is an obvious hazard, and drivers should take note of that."

Pc McCready said nine out of 10 cases of vehicles leaving Cambridgeshire's roads did not involve injury. "But along the Forty Foot you can pay a very high price for it."

Shailesh Vara, MP for North West Cambridgeshire, called for an urgent safety review of the Forty Foot Drain. He said: "This is a treacherous piece of road which regularly has fatal accidents. We need an urgent review of safety along it and I am writing to the leaders of Cambridgeshire County Council and Huntingdonshire District Council asking them to look again at the safety aspect of the road."

Mr Vara has also written to Alistair Darling MP, Secretary of State for Transport, asking for more funds for local roads, and in particular for the Forty Foot Bank to try to make it safer.

"There is a fund available," he told The Hunts Post. "I'm told that work to strengthen the verge and fence the road would cost about £900,000."

Police are appealing for witnesses who may have used the road early last Wednesday morning.

CONTACT: PS Steve Edwards on 0845 4564564.