Frustration at slow progress of A43 safety improvements after other major road is prioritised

A councillor whose mother was killed in a car accident on the A43 in Northamptonshire says he is frustrated at the length of time it is taking to improve safety on the road.

Friday, 22nd March 2019, 5:18 pm
Updated Friday, 22nd March 2019, 5:21 pm
The Hulcote turning is one of the potential crossovers being looked at, with a roundabout suggested as a proposed safety improvement

South Northamptonshire Council commissioned a report in 2017 with recommendations including closing eight gaps in the central reservation where right turning traffic can cross the road near Towcester and Brackley.

The authority endorsed the proposals back in July, but has been frustrated by the slow progress. And their concerns have been heightened after hearing that Highways England is prioritising the A5 before looking into the A43.

Councillor Phil Bignell has been championing safety improvements on the dual carriageway after his mother tragically passed away at the Tiffield turn near Towcester five years ago.

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He said: “The Whitfield turn near Brackley has had a few fatalities too. It’s dangerous and it’s important to look at it as soon as possible please.

“At the end of the day, they are dangerous. I don’t want other families to go through this. This has been going on and on and we need to keep pushing this.”

Councillors had heard an update on progress from Andrew Bowe, who is South Northamptonshire Council’s lead officer for strategic transport, on Wednesday evening.

He said: “Safety is still a concern for all of us in the district and is being addressed through some of the Local Plan proposals that are coming forward. We are eager to find a solution to the crossovers and there are various pieces of work being progressed to do that. These include the removal of the Hulcote crossover to be replaced with a roundabout.

“We are continuing discussions with Highways England, but the work is going to take some time. It’s a slow and complex process, and Highways England is prioritising safety on the A5 at the moment.”

Councillor Steven Hollowell responded: “I don’t really see Part 2 of the Local Plan delivering what we want, because it’s not really what it’s for. This has to come from central funds.”

The officer report, seen by councillors, states: "The closure of the gaps on the A43 will involve a significant amount of work to establish the feasibility of the closure, identify of alternative routes and assess the effect this will have on the wider network.

"Additionally, consultation will have to be undertaken with local stakeholders and the response considered as representations, for example from local businesses/farmers, may mean that Highways England is unable to close the gaps.

"It is also worth noting that Highways England has a number of schemes planned for the A5, which are further along in the feasibility assessments. These schemes will be put forward for possible funding before any further schemes are promoted for the A43."

The councillors agreed to keep pushing and promoting the safety improvements programme, and requested to see copies of a collision study that Highways England had commissioned for the road.