'My wife could still be alive': Safety bid for accident blackspot

Puddock Road, in Warboys

Puddock Road, in Warboys - Credit: Archant

Safety schemes for two accident blackspots in the Huntingdon area which have claimed the lives of several drivers and their passengers over the years are to be discussed by Cambridgeshire County Council next week.

Upgrades for Puddock Road near Warboys and the Wheatsheaf crossroads near Bluntisham will be considered by the Highways and Transport Committee on Tuesday when councillors consider will debate how the £594,000 budget for 2021-22 will be spent.

Both local roads have seen a series of fatal accidents and have been highlighted using "cluster site" data from the most recent three calendar year period which includes the number of collisions and their severity.

Retired senior police officer Steve Parnwell, whose wife Madeleine died when her car left Puddock Road and crashed into an adjacent waterway, said that the cost of protecting the whole road with barriers could not be justified.

“All I can say is that if there had been barriers there is no doubt that my wife could still be alive,” Mr Parnwell, from Warboys, said.

“Despite my personal tragedy and the immeasurable grief of other families, I don’t think the cost of barriers could be justified.”

Madeleine Parnwell

Madeleine Parnwell sadly died when her car crashed on Puddock Road. - Credit: Archant

Mr Parnwell said there may be a case for some barriers at known accident blackspots along the road where there was a spate of accidents around the time his wife died in December 2017.

As a former policeman he felt a roundabout may be the best solution for the Wheatsheaf crossing.
Options for the road to be considered by councillors include the possibility of stopping people from driving one end to the other.

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A staggered junction at the Wheatsheaf Crossroads is considered to provide the best means of reducing accidents, delays and costs in a report which will go before councillors.

Cllr Peter McDonald, Chair of the Highways and Transport Committee said: “We know how important road safety is across the county and it’s vital we identify the schemes where we can make a big difference to our communities within the tight budget we have.

“I know from the local member, Cllr Steve Criswell, about the frustrations and concerns about the Wheatsheaf junction, which is why we want to make sure we have the right solution at the right location.

As part of an inquest into a fatal accident on Puddock Road senior coroner David Heming said: “There have been a number of fatalities along this section of road for different reasons.

“But the recurring feature is because there is a water-filled ditch that tragically leads into a scenario where passengers cannot escape from a vehicle and then drown.”

He said action was needed to prevent future deaths on Puddock Road, adding: “It seems to me that there are two clear options, close the stretch all together, but that would bring significant issues and re-route traffic, or erect safety barriers all along that section of road. Safety barriers seem to be the most logical step.”