Crash prone junction in Northampton to get new layout after calls from the community

Liberal Democrat councillor Jill Hope has been trying to get changes made to Thomas A Becket junction on St James Road for more than a year.

Liberal Democrat councillor Jill Hope has been trying to get changes made to Thomas A Becket junction on St James Road for more than a year.

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A dangerous junction in Northampton which sees at least one “fender bender” every week according to those living nearby is due to be redesigned – after a year of calling for the accident black spot to be fixed.

The junction by the Thomas A Becket pub in St James Road has seen a number of crashes there in recent weeks.

A car lies at the side fo the road having been involved in a collision on the Thomas A Becket junction.

A car lies at the side fo the road having been involved in a collision on the Thomas A Becket junction.

But because most of the car crashes are non-injury collisions, which are often not recorded in a database, so far Northamptonshire County Council has done little to fund improvements to the traffic light-controlled crossroads.

Many felt the issues there could be solved by painting lines to give those turning right in either direction from St James Road a better view of oncoming traffic.

But this week the council has agreed to make changes to the junction after the weight of anecdotal evidence.

A spokesman for Northamptonshire County Council said: “We are aware of the issues regarding the junction of St James Road and St James Mill Road, which is one of the busiest in the county.

“After completing analysis of the junction it is clear that the main area of conflict occurs between right-turning traffic approaching the junction in either direction from St James Road.

“We are, however, in the design stage of implementing adjustments to the layout of the junction to help alleviate areas of conflict, particularly at peak-time traffic flows.

“In addition the bus stop placement, when travelling out of town, will be moved further back from its current position so as not to impede queuing traffic.

“We will have to be mindful that any changes do not have any adverse effect on the balance between capacity and congestion.”

The county council adds that it will not be making any changes to the traffic lights phasing at the junction as it believes that would cause congestion, though some had suggested the lights were the cause of the problem.

Councillor Jill Hope (Lib Dem, Sixfields) has been campaigning to get the Thomas A Becket junction fixed over the past 12 months.

She has stated on previous occasions that accidents are being caused by people turning right.

She said: “All that time they must have spent on the analysis and the conclusion is exactly what I and those living near the junction have been saying all along.”

Part of the reason improvements to the junction have been slow in coming is because local authorities prioritise funding for roads with a high number of accidents resulting in people being killed or seriously injured.

But Councillor Hope says the Thomas A Becket junction, and nearby Towcester Road and Rowtree Road junction, shows the funding formula needs re-addressing.

She said: “The question is if we have a junction that is subject to a number of non-injury collisions, why is that not seen as important?”

Those living near the Thomas A Becket junction say it is distressing seeing so many crashes at the accident black spot.

Robbie Hancock, 35, a cleaner at Carlsberg, who lives in an apartment in Byfield Road and has seen several collisions there recently, said: “There is a fender bender there at least once a week and I would say there are a lot of near misses as well.

“We are always hearing screeches from cars that have just avoided an accident.”

Mr Hancock was among the first people to raise the issue with Councillor Hope last year.

He said: “The junction is basically badly marked and the way the traffic lights are laid out is quite confusing. It seems people don’t know who has the right of way. It can be distressing watching this happen on a regular basis, when you know all that needs to happen is some lines painting.”

Back in February, landlady for the Thomas A Becket pub Michelle Cutler also reported that there was an accident at the junction “almost every week.”

She said: “I don’t believe anything will be done about it until somebody dies.”