Bottleneck delays emergency calls

The emergency services have added their weight to a clamour for improvements to Yarmouth's notorious Gapton Hall roundabout - claiming jams are delaying calls by vital minutes.

The emergency services have added their weight to a clamour for improvements to Yarmouth's notorious Gapton Hall roundabout - claiming jams are delaying calls by vital minutes.

Concerns have been voiced by local ambulance, fire and police officials amid growing frustration with the response of the Highways Agency responsible for the A12 trunk road and the roundabout at a key entrance to the town.

At two public meetings arranged by a Gapton Hall taskforce of Yarmouth's political and business leaders, agency spokesman Ranjit Mistry effectively ruled out on cost any major work - such as a flyover - at the roundabout, and said even an improved, automated traffic lights system would be at least two years away.

Matthew Ware, a spokesman for East Anglian Ambulance Service, said: “At peak times of the day when traffic builds up and we are responding from the hospital into Yarmouth and Caister it does take a long time to get through the traffic.

“It can delay emergency calls by two or three minutes and that could make a big difference. We would therefore support any road improvement plans for the roundabout.”

Norfolk Fire Service spokesman Martin Barsby said: “Any delay in getting to an incident is something that obviously causes us concern. We would be interested to hear more about what might be proposed for the Gapton Hall roundabout and would be happy to be a part of any working group looking at options for the future.”

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David Law, the police's area traffic manager, said: “We face similar problems in terms of delays to response times because of the congestion. We would welcome any improvements to keep traffic moving but I fear whatever is done there will still be peak time problems, partly because of Yarmouth's road layout with only three ways in and out of town, the A12, the A47 and the A149.”

Yarmouth Borough Council cabinet member Graham Plant, who chairs the Gapton Hall taskforce meetings, said: “We welcome an input from the emergency services to add more weight to our case and I will be inviting their representatives along to our next meeting with the Highways Agency.”

He said residents in Bradwell, where he was a ward councillor, often faced delays of 20 minutes at Gapton Hall on their way into Yarmouth.

Mr Mistry pledged that any official responses from the emergency services would be fed into their analysis. He said that over the summer traffic surveys would be undertaken so they could update their computer model of traffic flow at Gapton Hall to help them determine the way forward.

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