Fenland Road Barriers
Massive Support for Safety Barriers Bid Means Fenland’s ‘Forgotten Corners’ Can No Longer Be Ignored
The Fenland Road Safety Campaign and local partner agencies, Wimblington/Stonea, Christchurch and Manea Parish Councils, Fenland District Council and The Middle Level Commissioners, have secured massive backing for their Honey Farm Bend Safety Barriers Local Highways Improvement Funding Bid, which is now ready for submission to Cambs County Council.
Following the death of Sharon Taylor (54), from Suttonin-the-Isle, in a single vehicle immersion accident in the Sixteen Foot Drain, at the southern, river-inclined component of the twin bends near Honey Farm, Stonea, in October 2017, when on her way to a car boot sale in nearby Wimblington, concerns were raised, once again, about the hazards of these bends on the Sixteen Foot, which had previously claimed the life of a young mother, Karen Poole, from Christchurch, in an earlier single vehicle immersion accident, from which her then 3-yearold daughter, Hannah, was miraculously saved by local farmer, Robin Gowler, who witnessed the accident and bravely intervened, to do what he could to help.
The Bid proposal is for two sections of Safety Barrier to be installed, the first, on the river-inclined section of the Honey Farm Bends, replicating the December 2013 installation on the previously notorious blind bend at the Peterborough end of the North Bank (Dog in a Doublet) Road, which the Cambs Times reported had cost around £50K, at the time, and the second, a farm bridge adjacent stretch replicating the nearby Broad Alder Farm bridge safety barrier, installed further south on the Sixteen Foot Bank, in April 2012, at a cost of £20K.
The proposal to submit a multi-agency, joint LHI bid was developed following initial discussions between local Fenland District Councillors, Cllr Maureen Davis and Cllr Will Sutton, colleagues at Wimblington/Stonea, Christchurch, and Manea Parish Councils, FRSC (Charlotte’s Way) Chair, Graham Chappell, and Andy Preston, Highway Projects and Road Safety Manager, of Cambs County Council, who advised, in April 2018, that this would be an appropriate way to try to secure the level of funding required for safety barrier installation at this location, which is anticipated will cost upwards of £70,000, and would therefore be well beyond the scope of any individual Parish or Town Council, or single other body, seeking funding through the LHI scheme.
The initial LHI Bid partnership of FRSC (Charlotte’s Way), Wimblington/Stonea, Christchurch and Manea Parish Councils, has since been joined by The Middle Level Commissioners, and Fenland District Council, with FRSC pledging £10,000, and the other 5 partners pledging £1,666.67 each, to secure entitlement to up to £15K per bidder, from Cambs County Council, through the LHI scheme.
Further backing has come from a group of local businesses, pledging donations, including: Albert Bartlett and Sons (£200), Allpress Farms (£200), Fenland Leisure Products (£250), Maxey Grounds & Co (£100), Metalcraft Chatteris Ltd (£150), Peter Humphrey Associates (£200), Skylark Garden Centre (£150), Swann Edwards Architectural Services (£500), and The Garage March Autocare (£100).
North East Cambs MP, Steve Barclay, a long-time supporter of the work of the Fenland Road Safety Campaign, since its inception, in March 2008, is writing in support of the Honey Farm Bends Safety Barriers Bid, and March Mayor, Rob Skoulding, whose family were close friends of Karen Poole, who lost her life in an immersion accident on the Honey Farm Bends, and deeply affected by her loss, has pledged £250 through the Mayors Office, towards the Bid.
Major additional support has also come from two further, incredibly generous sponsors of the Bid, the first, Cambs and Pboro Jason Ablewhite, Police and Crime Commissioner for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough who pledges up to £25,000 of match funding to support the Honey Farm Bends Joint LHI Bid, with the following message of support: “The Police and Crime Commissioner is committed to improving road safety and has pledged £25,000 match funding towards the Honey Farm Bends Joint LHI bid. Life-saving schemes such as this where there is a clear need and evidence-based solutions are projects the Commissioner is happy to support.”
A further, extraordinary donation, of £10,000 from Mick George Limited, has come in the form of a cheque, signed personally by Mick George, which exactly doubles the amount originally pledged towards the Bid, by FRSC (Charlotte’s Way).
Stuart Costello, Marketing Director at Mick George Ltd, advised:
“As a business, we always look to support Road Safety initiatives across the county and we are pleased to be working closely with The Fenland Road Safety Campaign helping raise the muchneeded funds to install safety barriers at the Honey Farm Bend, near Stonea. The efforts that have gone in to raising the awareness and importance of these road safety improvements by all involved in the funding bid should be applauded, and we are happy to donate £10,000 towards the bid.”
Mr Chappell said, “Quite simply, we cannot thank Mick George, the Police and Crime Commissioner, Jason Ablewhite, and all concerned, enough, for the support they have so kindly and generously given to the Bid.
They have strengthened the Bid’s chances of success, immeasurably, and achieving that will make these long overlooked ‘Forgotten Corners’ of Fenland, safe, and free from the threat of further unnecessary loss of life, due to river immersion tragedies, which will be a great step forward for all concerned, in Fenland and beyond.”