Residents demand slip lane be closed on problem junction near King’s Lynn

Residents demanded the slip road on a notorious junction near King's Lynn be immediately closed during a heated public meeting with highways officials last night (Thursday).

More than 30 people attended an extraordinary Clenchwarton Parish Council meeting to share their experiences of the Wisbech Road junction with Clenchwarton Road in West Lynn.

Many of those attending had witnessed or been involved in crashes at the site, near the East Coast Business Park, since Norfolk County Council began altering the junction last year.

Karl Rands, highways manager for the Western area, said closing the slip road and adding a roundabout were out of the question, but CCTV would shortly be installed on a lamppost at the junction to monitor its use.

A new �33,000 diverge lane was added in 2011 and priority was changed so vehicles turning into Wisbech Road are now required to give way to oncoming vehicles turning right.

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The council spent a further �12,000 extending the diverge lane in February this year, but residents claim the changes have only served to make the junction more dangerous.

Ray Bullock, a member of the West Lynn Forum, said: 'Close that slip lane off and it will ease the problems. Some of us use the junction two or three times a day and we dread it.'

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Residents agreed that most accidents were not caused by people using the slip road incorrectly, but by motorists turning right into the path of oncoming traffic.

Figures released by Norfolk Police following a Freedom of Information request show there were eight injury collisions and two non-injury collisions at the junction between May 17 last year and January 14 this year.

All the injury crashes, including one classed as 'serious', were head-on and according to the data, each involved a vehicle turning right towards South Lynn.

Mr Rands said four of the collisons involved motorists in the diverge lane failing to give way to those turning right.

Parish council chairman Sue Cross said there had been several crashes at the junction since the diverge lane was lengthened in February, the most recent being on July 31.

'It's not driver error, it's junction error,' she said. 'We are trying to stress that someone will be killed.'

West Norfolk councillor Gary McGuinness said lots of statistics had been bandied around, but he believed there had been more crashes at the junction since the slip lane was introduced.

'Closing the slip lane needs to be seriously considered,' he added.

The meeting voted unanimously for the slip road to be closed immediately, but Mr Rands said that would only leave the council where it started.

'It is not a remarkable junction,' he said. 'They are in use in other parts of the county and they have a good safety record. That's why there's a bit of puzzlement as to why these accidents keep happening.

'I don't dispute that a compact roundabout could be the answer, but it's not feasible with our very limited resources. We do however have the facilities to install CCTV to observe driver behaviour.'

Mr Rands said highways officials had visited the site that morning and witnessed some 'horrendous' driving, including drivers overtaking cars in the diverge lane before turning left in front of them.

'People will drive as they see fit and we can't always engineer that away,' he added.

Mr Rands said further work was due to be carried out at the junction this summer and could include measures to physically separate the slip lane from the main carriageway.

Mrs Cross called a further meeting at 7pm on Monday, September 3, venue to be confirmed.

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