Are drivers snubbing Acle Straight for rural village route?
- Credit: James Bass
More and more drivers are choosing to travel through rural villages to avoid the A47 Acle Straight, it has been claimed.
While safety fears over the notorious eight-mile stretch linking Acle to Great Yarmouth have made headlines in recent weeks, it is now being suggested the Acle Straight problem goes much further afield - as drivers use rural village roads to avoid the dangerous single carriageway.
Residents in Fleggburgh and Filby have reported an significant increase in traffic, especially during the morning rush hour.
Great Yarmouth borough councillor Haydn Thirtle believes lives are being put at risk as some of those drivers ignore the lower speed limits.
Cllr Thirtle, a retired police officer who lives in Fleggburgh, said many of the drivers using the A1064 Fleggburgh, Billockby and Filby to avoid the Acle Straight will race along the route to save time.
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'The Acle straight has received considerable publicity, and rightly so with increased deaths and serious injuries resulting from road accidents,' said Mr Thirtle.
'But this has also had a very serious impact on the villages. Drivers are becoming increasingly fearful of using the Acle Straight due to fear of accidents and delays at the Vauxhall and Fullers Hill roundabouts and are now resorting to using the A1064 to get to and from Great Yarmouth.
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'I hear people say 'nothing will be done until some child gets killed',' he added.
The rural route from Acle to Yarmouth is just over 12 miles long and, compared to 15 minutes on the Acle Straight, takes about 25 minutes to travel. But when the straight is blocked or traffic is heavy around Yarmouth's roundabout, it can be the fastest route.
Derek Nicker lives on Main Road in Filby.
'We know exactly when there's been an accident on the Acle Straight,' he said.
'It's particularly bad in the summer time. More than once, I've looked out my window and I know there's no point in even trying to go out. You can effectively be trapped inside. It has taken me 15 minutes just to get off my driveway before.'
Mr Nicker doesn't believe speeding drivers are a particular problem but backs up the claim that the number of cars using the alternative village route is going up.
'We really notice it in the mornings, between 8am and 9am,' he said.
'People are definitely using the villages more to avoid the Acle Straight. I personally don't use that road; I avoid it for the obvious reasons. I feel sorry for the people living on the Billocky bends; there's a wall on the corner that must have been knocked down twice already this year.'
Last year, Norfolk Police carried out a speed survey outside Fleggburgh Primary School on the Main Road.
The results showed that 38,755 vehicles passed the school and more than 8,800 could have been prosecuted for speeding.
'This is a staggering amount,' said Mr Thirtle.
'It should raise the alarm to the potential dangers of doing nothing.
'Increased traffic flow and speeding are now making the roads in these village dangerous and unsafe for pedestrians and cyclist to use.
'As a former police officer who has attended fatal road accidents on the Acle Straight and informed parents of the death of their children, we cannot wait for more deaths.'
A spokesman for Norfolk Police confirmed that the survey carried out in May 2014 found that 'a high proportion of motorists were travelling over the 30mph speed limit on the A1064 in Fleggburgh'.
He said: 'In light of this, the constabulary's Traffic Management Officers suggested placing further 30mph speed limit signs along the stretch of road to Norfolk County Council's highways department and cutting back the undergrowth around the existing speed limit signs.
'Highways are now planning to carry out both of these improvements off the back of our suggestions.'
Mr Thirtle said he would also back safety improvements on the Acle Straight itself.
'The village roads have always been and will always be the alternative route,' he said.
'Dualling the A47 is only part of the picture and it's going to take a long time. I would fully support the introduction of a lower speed limit and a no overtaking rule.'