Outrage as council backs inadequate’ safety measures

TEARS were shed by the mother of Warren Hay on Monday as Cambridgeshire County Council agreed to push forward with its plans for safety improvements on the A141 in Huntingdon. Maxine Hay has described the scheme proposed by CCC – to ban right turns into

TEARS were shed by the mother of Warren Hay on Monday as Cambridgeshire County Council agreed to push forward with its plans for safety improvements on the A141 in Huntingdon.

Maxine Hay has described the scheme proposed by CCC - to ban right turns into and out of King's Ripton Road and the construction of a traffic island - as "inadequate".

However, it was supported by members of the Huntingdonshire traffic management area joint committee this week after an amendment failed to gain the necessary support.

The move has outraged Mrs Hay and the Warren Hay Road Safety Action Group. They believe the proposals will do nothing to protect pedestrians. CCC says the scheme is a starting point, but is the best it can afford at the moment - unless other people come forward with funds and offers of aid.

One such offer has now come from Lord de Ramsey who said he is willing to give over some land with the aim of helping the group get its wish - a footbridge over the road, although the group would also accept a light controlled crossing. His land would be used for a path from the A141 to Jubilee Park.

He told The Hunts Post: "The only long term solution is a bridge. The refusal to build a bridge has remained a tragic and mistaken policy." He instructed engineers to carry out a report to see how much a bridge would cost and was quoted £1.2million.

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Lord De Ramsey added: "There is therefore no practical reason why a bridge cannot be built to ensure that safety of our young sports players. Anything less and the local authorities concerned are saying 'we don't care about their safety'."

Mrs Hay believes CCC still has a lot of work to do.

"You (the county council) have hijacked our campaign," she said on Monday. "Your proposal does not address the problem with crossing the road. Providing a safe crossing for pedestrians has always been our aim and we will continue to fight for it. You have had 20 years to do something and you have killed my son. You should put all the money together and do the job properly."

John Dunleavy, a founding member of the action group, which was set up May after 16-year-old Warren was killed trying to cross the A141 on his way to Jubilee Park, said: "You have played Russian roulette with the people of Huntingdon for many years. How long did you think it would be before someone was seriously injured or killed? Warren Hay has been killed through your negligence. We say you have all failed the young footballers of Huntingdon and the community on this matter."

Some councillors shared the action group's concerns and thought the council's £160,000 proposal did not go far enough.

Cllr Tom Sanderson said the council should not disregard other options: "I think we should go forward with this but we must make it clear that this is only the first stage. To put a refuge island in the middle of the road will not make it safe for pedestrians to cross."

Cllr Peter Downes suggested a light-controlled crossing but his amendment was turned down.

Chairing the meeting, Cllr Mac McGuire said: "By putting this option forward this is our way of getting money but if other parties come forward then we can think about finding a better scheme.

"We do want to do more. We have not totally disregarded a bridge but we need more funding."

Cllr Downes said they should look to Huntingdonshire District Council for a financial contribution: "I do not think we should exclude the district council. In 1993 HDC planners rejected the county council's concerns and passed planning permission for Jubilee Park without any conditions for a cycleway or footpath. With hindsight that was a very serious move."

The scheme will now go to the CCC's cabinet in December where it will compete for funding against other safety schemes. However, the action group says it is not the end of the fight. Mrs Hay said: "I hope you can all sleep at night knowing what you have done. This is not the end - we will keep fighting."

Mr Dunleavy added: "We will take this further and we will raise the money ourselves for a bridge and embarrass the district and county councils."

The county council has said a bridge is too expensive - costing £2million - and would not address vehicle accidents on the road.

Cllr McGuire added the council was looking for other options: "If Lord De Ramsey is willing to work with us then we can look at further safety improvements for the road. If there are other parties willing to support safety improvements on this road then now is the time to come forward.

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