Drivers ignore safety measures at King’s Lynn Mart

Safety officials helping pedestrians cross King Street at the site where toddler Rio Bell was killed in 2012. Picture: Ian Burt Safety officials helping pedestrians cross King Street at the site where toddler Rio Bell was killed in 2012. Picture: Ian Burt

Tuesday, February 19, 2013
10:43 AM

Drivers are refusing to slow down past the corner where toddler Rio Bell died - ignoring safety measures put in place to help avoid another tragedy.

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Safety patrols are now in place at the spot where Lowestoft toddler Rio, aged two, was hit by a car and fatally injured near to King’s Lynn Mart. But officials said cars had been ignoring their instructions to slow down.

“We’ve had to take a couple of registrations,” said Chris Mann, supervisor for GSL Dardan, the security company providing staff for the crossing.

“We have been given the powers to take details down as we have been accredited by the police.

“When there’s an event on like a fun fair people should use their common sense and slow down. Fun fair equals kids. They should kill their speed and think.

“Thursday night was when we had three vehicles not following instructions. I have got details of vehicles and will be passing them on to the police.

“It’s safer to a certain degree, but you’ll never get 100pc safety where you get pedestrians and vehicles. It’s a mix that doesn’t mix well. There’s unpredictability.”

The stewards at the crossing are accredited by the Community Safety Accreditation Scheme (CSAS), which grants limited powers to the accredited persons.

The manned crossing point has been operating on the corner of King Street stopping traffic to allow pedestrians to cross.

But campaigner Paul Macey, who held Rio’s hand as he lay in the road, said he did not think it was enough.

“I go back to my original argument and petition with the council,” he said. “It’s clearly proven that the only way to make it safe is to close the road.

“They have taken down details of four cars in the first two days for not listening to instructions.

“Without a doubt, with the media tension raised about the issue, anyone driving down there like this either has no respect for human life or they are not responsible enough to be behind the wheel.

“With the irresponsibility of the drivers shown the only solution is that you close the road down. It only takes one car and one person.

“It’s irresponsible and those guys are doing a great job within their abilities. Unfortunately they don’t have the power to prevent another death.

“While drivers are ignoring instructions and speeding there is a definite chance of someone getting badly hurt or killed.

“Hopefully people will start to realise they are not just some people wearing a high-vis vest and they can do something.

“But going by the first 48 hours, if people are going to continue to be irresponsible, even they will not be able to prevent a death.”

Campaigners called for the roads around the Mart to be closed after Rio was hit by the car, in February 2012.

West Norfolk council said: “A motorist who ignored our marshal’s instruction was reported to the police. The vast majority of motorists have co-operated with our marshals.

“The current traffic arrangements around the Mart were formulated by a task group including residents, showmen, businesses, the police, Norfolk County Council and other interested parties, and will be reviewed as part of the full operations review that we hold following the Mart’s departure.”

Yesterday, fresh bunches of flowers marked the spot close to the Globe Hotel.

A message attached to one bouquet read: “To My Darling Rio. I’m missing you lots. Hope you are having fun on your bike up there above with the angels. Missing you always, love your Daddy.”

Yesterday was Children’s Day at the Mart coinciding with the first Monday of half-term. Children were out in force and enjoying the Spring sunshine.

But behind the scenes there are tensions, with West Norfolk council trying to reduce the number of days the fair is allowed to operate.

Showmen, for whom the fair marks the start of the touring season, say officials do not have the right to amend its 800-year-old Royal Charter. The Showmen are also trying to protect the traditional Valentine’s Day opening of the fair.

This year’s Mart is two days shorter than is traditional finishing on Sunday, February 24.

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