Safety calls after A47 death toll rises to eight in just 10 weeks

Part of the A47 close to Hockering, where a road accident happened near on Saturday evening .Picture: Matthew Usher.

Part of the A47 close to Hockering, where a road accident happened near on Saturday evening .Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

Campaigners today will renew their fight for A47 improvements after the death toll on the road reached eight in just 10 weeks

In the most recent tragedy two women were killed in a head-on crash despite desperate bids to save them.

The women – aged 19 and 48 from the Dereham area – died on Saturday after the Ford Ka they were travelling in was involved in a collision with a Mercedes CLX.

The crash happened at about 4pm on the single carriageway section on the Dereham side of Hockering, between Mattishall Lane and Fox Lane.

The double tragedy follows the deaths of six other people since Christmas Eve and comes as efforts are being stepped up to get improvements to the A47.

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Yesterday there was unconfirmed speculation that funding for A47 upgrades could be included by chancellor George Osborne in next week's Budget.

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman has been leading the push for improvement work and said he would be contacting other Norfolk MPs today and then writing to the transport minister Stephen Hammond and Mr Osborne to ask about money being made available.

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Norfolk County Council leader Bill Borrett – whose division includes Hockering – said the latest crash was a 'terrible tragedy' and made it even more important for funding to be provided for dualling.

Police said the Mercedes driver in Saturday's crash, a man from Hertfordshire, was not injured.

The road was reopened after being blocked for nearly four hours in both directions while officers carried out investigations.

Police are appealing for witnesses to the crash and are particularly keen to speak to passengers on a double decker bus heading from Norwich to Dereham who may have seen the collision.

Two fire crews, one from Dereham and one from Earlham, released the two women who died and another person.

Three ambulances, the air ambulance and a rapid response vehicle were sent to the scene. The call to the ambulance control room was made at 3.54pm and crews were on scene at 4.05pm.

Motorists faced long delays in the area, especially with steady snow making road conditions worse.

Traffic was also heavier than usual with fans heading home after the Norwich City game against Southampton.

Roads in surrounding villages were clogged up with vehicles taking alternative routes.

Mr Freeman said: 'This is another reminder of the danger of this road and the urgency of the need to upgrade and improve the various safety bottlenecks along it.

'The patchy dualling of the A47 makes these stretches of road around Dereham especially dangerous.'

Mr Borrett agreed, saying: 'The A47 Alliance has put together a document and we have had a lot of support from the MPs. We want to see it done as soon as possible.'

He said he was not aware of the speculation that there could be an announcement in the Budget, but said, if true, it would be 'very exciting.'

Mr Borrett said the government had been listening and there was hope.

Saturday's tragedy comes after three other fatal crashes in recent weeks.

On Christmas Eve, Patricia Knight, 76. from Aylestone, near Leicester, died at Wendling as she travelled to spend Christmas with her family. Her husband, John, died four hours later in hospital. Bridget Walker, 69, from Norwich, was also involved in the crash and died in hospital in January.

Sisters Tamzin Portor, 10, and Jessica Portor, seven, died in hospital after a crash on the A47 near Walsoken at the end of December.

Kim Utting, 52, of Litcham, was killed on Valentine's Day morning as she and her daughter were travelling on the A47 near Dereham.

A car was involved in another crash on the A47 at Dereham last night. A Norfolk police spokesman said nobody was thought to have suffered serious injuries.

Anybody with information about Saturday's crash should ring the Wymondham serious collision investigation team on 101.

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