'The most distressing part is how it hardens you' - Community's anger after scaffolder dies in crash at accident blackspot
PUBLISHED: 08:24 02 January 2019 | UPDATED: 14:29 04 January 2019
A community is calling for action after a fatal accident on New Years Eve marked just another day living next to one of Norfolk's most dangerous stretches of road.
Residents living along the mile-long stretch of the A140 between Stratton St Michael and Tasburgh face almost weekly crashes with fatalities and serious injuries a regular occurrence on the accident blackspot.
On New Year’s Eve, another name was added to the list of drivers killed on this part of the A140 after Anthony Glover, a scaffolder from Norwich, was killed near the road’s junction with Church Lane, joining 17-year-old Shannon Ann Gittings who died a crash in October last year.
Tim Wood, who has lived beside the road for 16 years, said he was angry at the lack of action from the council and said crashes are a weekly occurrence.
He said: “The council has got a lot to answer for. People’s lives are not worth it. These guys working in the emergency services are literally having to pick up the pieces.
“The crashes are weekly. Pulling out, you close your eyes and hope for the best.”
The emotional toll of so many serious crashes so regularly has its affect, with the community left jaded by how often crashes happen.
Mr Wood added: “I think complaining about the road and the new roundabout, which won’t help, is falling on deaf ears despite the impact on the community.
“The most distressing part is how it hardens you and you come to expect it. When it stops affecting you that is when it is affecting you the most.
“We stopped being shocked and I think when we become accepting of something like that, that is letting people off the hook.”
Nick Happerson, who lives next to the A140 at Stratton St Michael said he and his family can recognise the signs of a crash on the road, such are their frequency.
He said: “You can sit in the front room and hear a crunch and you know exactly what it is. The air ambulance landed the other side of our garden last night.
“It was like a football match with all the lights up in the air. They were out there ages and it looked bad. You could hear the people screaming in the cars.
“It is not very nice but you just live with it. You live with it greatly as it has got busier and busier and a 50 or 60mph speed limit is just ridiculous.”
Mr Happerson added the new roundabout planned directly outside his house should help, but the lack of a lower speed limit between the two downs will see no reduction in crashes.
He said: “It is one of the fastest stretches of roads at Hempnall, and that is one of the most dangerous places. It should be 40mph really.
“You take your life in your hands walking along that path. You are a foot from vehicles doing 60 or 70mph.”
Alison Thomas, Norfolk County conservative councillor for the area, said the new Hempnall roundabout should improve safety.
She said: “The Hempnall crossing is due to start in the next couple of months and that will make a huge difference to that section of the road and to the safety for people exiting and entering on to the A140.
“I share my condolences with the families involved and I hope the improvements at Hempnall will make it safer for drivers in the future.
“Any serious accident like that which involves serious injuries, our hearts go out to the families and friends of the people involved, especially at this time of year.”
Martin Wilby, who chairs County Hall’s transport committee, echoed Mrs Thomas and said the two new roundabouts, including one at Stratton St Michael, will make the road safer.
He said: “We are aware of the problems there and our thoughts are with the families of the person who has died in this accident.
“We are due to start work on the Hempnall crossing in 2019 which I believe will make a huge difference to that stretch of road by slowing traffic in all four directions.
“By doing the roundabout in Stratton St Michael as well and having two roundabouts, I am fairly sure that will make that road much more safer.”