Bid to help fund road-safety scheme on A148 near Sheringham Park

Worried parish councils may chip in to help fund road-safety measures outside a major north Norfolk tourist attraction after hearing that the county's budget has been drastically cut.

Concerned residents and councillors had hoped for a reduction in the 60mph speed limit along the A148 at its junction with lanes to West Beckham and Upper Sheringham, beside the National Trust's Sheringham Park.

But, during a site visit on Friday , representatives heard that a slower limit could not be justified and that Norfolk County Council's budget for such schemes had been slashed by 90pc.

Now Cheryl Finch and Jon Dorey, the chairmen of the parish councils for East and West Beckham, and Upper Sheringham, will ask their members whether they would consider helping to pay for a central refuge in the road, to slow down traffic and aid pedestrians.

They claim the junction is a constant danger for motorists and walkers because of high speeds on the A148, and poor visibility.

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Last month a motorcyclist was injured in a collision with a car at the junction. But Kevin Allen, project engineer network safety with the county council, said latest statistics, which did not yet include the June incident, showed there had been no injury accidents at the junction since safety improvements were carried out two years ago.

The junction was not in a built-up area and drivers would not understand why they had to reduce their speed, said Mr Allen.

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He added: 'There are 2,500 accidents in the county involving injury every year. My budget is 10pc of what it was a year ago and I have to prioritise. I haven't got any money to do this.'

However, Mr Allen said he could arrange for verges, hedgerows and trees to be cut back to improve visibility.

Keith Zealand, from Sheringham Park, said he would also ask the National Trust about contributing to a refuge as some 70,000 to 100,000 vehicles visited the attraction annually.

And North Norfolk District councillor Anthea Sweeney, who has led the speed-limit campaign - which has included a 300-signature petition - said she would ask whether the district could put anything towards a refuge in a bid to move it further up the county council's priority list.

County highways officials and other interested parties took part in site visits, organised by Holt county councillor John Perry-Warnes, to five road junctions causing concern. The others were Saxthorpe crossroads, Holt Lodge Corner, Bodham crossroads and the Aylmerton Roman Camp crossroads.

Mr Perry-Warnes said as a result volunteers had come forward to start a Saxthorpe Speed Watch scheme, the county had agreed to fund another reactive sign in Holt, warning drivers if they exceeded the 30mph limit, and there would be further consultation on a pedestrian refuge opposite the garage at Aylmerton.

He added: 'It was encouraging that so many people were able to express their views. However the county council is subject to a number of constraints on what can be done, both monetary and legal.'

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