Horses injured as coach hits landau station

STEPHEN PULLINGER Startled horses were sent bolting along Yarmouth's busy seafront on Sunday morning when a coach ploughed into the resort's new landau station. As angry carriage drivers counted the toll of four damaged landaus and two injured horses, they said they had told the borough council earlier in the summer that extra signs were needed to warn off cars and coaches from the slow lane, established as part of the multi-million pound seafront revamp.

STEPHEN PULLINGER

Startled horses were sent bolting along Yarmouth's busy seafront on Sunday morning when a coach ploughed into the resort's new landau station.

As angry carriage drivers counted the toll of four damaged landaus and two injured horses, they said they had told the borough council earlier in the summer that extra signs were needed to warn off cars and coaches from the slow lane, established as part of the multi-million pound seafront revamp.

Kiel Barber, a landau driver in Yarmouth for 20 years, said: “I was the first carriage on the rank and I saw the coach coming towards me down the slow lane that's only meant for us, cyclists and the road train.

“It clipped the first canopy but kept going and hit the second one. The noise of it crashing down panicked all the horses. I managed to get mine under control but some took off across the pavement.

“It's lucky it happened at 11.30am and not a couple of hours later. The seafront would have been a lot busier then and someone could easily have been killed.”

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Ronnie Billyard, whose mare Star lost a shoe and cut her foot before he could get her under control, said: “Two cars came along the slow lane earlier this summer, but we are still waiting for the No Entry sign the Town Hall assured us would be put up.”

Geoffrey Bland said his horse Jimmy had whipped round quickly and hit one of the station's posts, snapping his harness and leaving the landau with damaged wheels and bent shafts - it was only the post that saved him from bolting along the pavement.

John Duffield said he was concerned that his horse Joe might be too nervous to carry on after the shock and that would cost him £2,000.

He said: “I was up the front and after the crash my horse turned round and ran down the pavement. He eventually got caught up with another carriage. Otherwise he was veering towards the road and the cars going along the seafront.”

One landau driver, who did not want to be named for fear of upsetting the council, said he felt the whole new road layout was dangerous because there were often cases of cars shooting across the slow lane, in front of horses, to reach parking spaces.

Chris Stainton, boss of Kendal-based Stainton's coaches, said their vehicle had just brought a party of holidaymakers from Cromer to Yarmouth for the day, but they had all got off before the crash.

He said he would be talking to the driver as part of a full investigation, and trying to establish why he drove on after hitting the first canopy.

The coach, which sustained a broken windscreen and windows, was taken to Reynold's Coaches in nearby Caister on a low-loader and will be repaired locally.

A police spokesman said they had interviewed the driver at the scene but were still investigating exactly what happened.

Borough council regeneration officer Tim Howard said after ensuring the damaged structure was safe, he would be seeking urgent discussions with the police and county council about how to improve the safety of the slow lane.

He said the borough council had already raised the issue of better signage with the county council and was aware of other vehicles using the slow lane during the summer.

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