Council leader’s pledge to find funds for roadworks at problem junction near King’s Lynn
15:57 04 September 2012
© Archant Norfolk 2012
The leader of Norfolk County Council last night vowed to find the money needed for improvement work at a notorious junction on the edge of King’s Lynn.
Derrick Murphy also agreed with the villagers who packed a public meeting in Clenchwarton that the problems at the Wisbech Road junction with Clenchwarton Road in West Lynn should have been dealt with already.
Officers at the council’s highways department will install cameras at the site, near the East Coast Business Park, for two weeks from next Thursday to assess the situation.
Mr Murphy said: “We would love to have the biggest pot of money to deal with this because there is nothing more important than the life of a human being.
“There is a problem in this area and I agree that we should have dealt with it yesterday, not tomorrow. This needs to now be resolved quickly.”
Graham Plant, Norfolk County Council’s cabinet member for transport, also spoke at the meeting.
He said: “We won’t allow this situation to happen for much longer but we don’t want officers throwing money at this and hoping it works.”
The council began altering the junction last year by adding a new £33,000 diverge lane and changing the priority so vehicles turning into Wisbech Road are now required to give way to oncoming vehicles turning right.
The council then spent a further £12,000 extending the diverge lane in February this year.
During last night’s meeting, Tim Edmunds, Norfolk County Council’s highways networks manager, said while the current slip road had reduced the previous problem at the junction, it created a new problem.
He added: “What we want to do now is get the CCTV monitoring in there and get a good impression of how the junction is working.
“Once we now what’s going on we can take steps to remedy the situation because the accident rate is now worse than when we started.
“If we had deep pockets we would probably put a roundabout in there because it would reduce the amount of collisions but the problem with having a roundabout there is the amount of traffic there at peak times so it would have to be a big roundabout to work.”
He later said: “We are committed to solving the problem but before we spend more public money we need to understand what is happening.”
But resident Richard Burton said the council could solve the problem at the junction now by closing the slip road with bollards.
Speaking to Mr Edmunds, he added: “You should have done something about this a year ago. People have been complaining about this for a long time and we really need a solution quickly.
“I would urge you not to take too long looking at this because there will be more accidents and someone might be killed.
“I certainly don’t think further time should be wasted having cameras up there. You shouldn’t be setting up CCTV cameras to watch accidents – that is wrong.”
Meanwhile Ray Bullock, a member of the West Lynn Forum, said: “Why don’t you close the slip road temporarily with cones for six months, see what happens and then come back to talk to us again?”
Alexandra Kemp also called for a guarantee that a “proper solution” would be funded at the site, adding that West Norfolk felt like “the poor relations” of the county.
She added: “If this was in Norwich it would be have been done already and lots of money thrown at it.”
As well as calls to block off the slip way, some people asked for the council to remove the give way lines at the end of the slip road and others called for the old slip road, which is now a cycle lane, to be reinstated.
In response to the views raised by the public, Mr Edmunds said: “What we are trying to do is gather all the facts so when we come to make our next decision, we make sure it’s the right one.
“We do not want to watch accidents at all. We want to find the right solution for the long term that can be afforded by the council.”
He later added: “I’m not a magician; I’m an engineer looking for facts.”
A letter from North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham was also read at the start of the meeting, in which he pledged his “100 per cent support” to the fight for improvements.
Figures previously released by Norfolk Police following a Freedom of Information request show there were eight injury collisions and two non-injury collisions at the junction between May 17 last year and January 14 this year.
All the injury crashes, including one classed as ‘serious’, were head-on and according to the data, each involved a vehicle turning right towards South Lynn.
A further meeting on the issue is to be held at the Clenchwarton Memorial Hall on Monday, October 1 at 7pm.