Campaigners’ joy as county council reveal West Lynn slip road will close amid safety fears
PUBLISHED: 09:37 27 September 2012
© Archant Norfolk 2012
Highways officials are to shut part of a notorious junction in West Lynn after a CCTV camera captured disturbing footage of near misses at the site.
Residents have been demanding Norfolk County Council abandon the slip lane at the Clenchwarton Road junction since it was first built as part of a £55,000 improvement project last year.
Campaigners reported an increased number of crashes following the alterations, and last night warned that near misses were still occurring on an hourly basis.
The council’s decision follows the installation of a CCTV camera at the site, near the East Coast Business Park, on September 13.
Footage confirmed the dangerous picture painted by West Lynn and Clenchwarton residents, who were told only last month that the slip road would remain.
Graham Plant, cabinet member for planning and transportation, said: “We will be reporting the findings and our proposals to another public meeting on Monday, but after the CCTV showed near misses in exactly the way described by local people, we have taken immediate steps to start the process of closing the left turn lane.
“This will be carried out as soon as possible, but it must be done properly, including changes to signs and lines, so may take a few weeks.
“Once the left turn lane has been closed we will continue to monitor the junction closely to see if further measures are needed for a permanent solution.”
The £33,000 slip lane was added in 2011 for vehicles leaving West Lynn and turning left into Wisbech Road.
Priority was changed so vehicles turning left were required to give way to oncoming vehicles turning right and a further £12,000 was spent on extending the diverge lane in February this year.
“It has been a complete waste of money,” said Sue Cross, Clenchwarton Parish Council chairman. “There have been no crashes since the camera was put up, but there have been lots of near misses - I would say one an hour. I’m very pleased by the decision - we have achieved something.”
Two packed public meetings to discuss the issue have been held in the last couple of months.
Last month highways officials insisted the junction was “not remarkable” and said the layout had worked well in other parts of Norfolk.
Karl Rands, highways manager for the western area, told a meeting on August 9 that the crashes were puzzling and the council’s limited resources would not be spent at the site.
But at the latest meeting on September 3, county council leader Derrick Murphy pledged to find the money needed to improve the junction.
Speaking on Monday, Mr Murphy said: “The main problem was the filter lane at that junction, it caused confusion so that is going to be removed.
“We believe by closing that slip road it will cut out problems straight away.”
The news was also welcomed by Don Ely of the West Lynn Forum, who has been involved in two near misses.
“I’m absolutely delighted they have taken notice of what we have been saying for some time now. Clearly the camera has shown what we have said all along. We are fed up to the back teeth with all the accidents. We experience near misses every day,” he said.
The public meeting will be held at Clenchwarton Memorial Hall, in Black Horse Lane, from 7pm on Monday.