More crashes on A697 reinforce safety calls

Another spate of accidents on the A697 has reinforced the need for action to be taken on the road, it has been claimed.

And campaigners say it is becoming ‘more dangerous’ because of the inadequacies of the A1.

Over the past week alone, a series of accidents have occurred on the A697, including a two-vehicle crash between Wooler and Milfield on Tuesday morning, involving a Land Rover and a Renault Clio.

It followed a smash on August 7, near Wooler, between two cars, which resulted in an 87-year-old man suffering serious spinal injuries.

Last month, Coun Glen Sanderson, ward member for Chevington with Longhorsley, made a rallying call for the A697 to come under closer scrutiny, after three serious accidents – two of which were fatal – happened in the space of nine days between Heighley Gate and Longhorsley.

And he said the latest incidents provide further evidence that the road needs to be looked at and safety measures should be put in place.

“It reinforces the need to put the A697 on the agenda,” he said.

“I have raised the issues with the county council about that stretch where the three incidents in nine days happened and officers are being very cooperative and are giving it the attention it deserves.

“But the whole of the A697 does need to be looked at carefully and it is clear that there are dangers all the way along as far as the Borders.”

After the recent incidents close to Wooler, which also included a tractor shedding its hay load on Tuesday near the centre of the village, Coun Anthony Murray backed the call for something to be done.

“I am very happy for anybody to look into what might be done to help.

“The recent crashes do reinforce that something needs to be done because we want an A697 which is free of crashes,” said Coun Murray, who is the county council member for Wooler.

Both councillors also maintain that the poor state of the A1 is compromising safety on the A697, which adds further weight to the campaign for the A1 to be dualled.

Coun Murray said: “As far as I am concerned, more and more traffic is using the A697, especially more and more heavy goods vehicles and this is because of the inadequacies of the A1.

“There is a huge amount of Scottish traffic which goes through Wooler on the A697 because they get so frustrated with the A1.

“The A697 is becoming more dangerous because it is being used more and more.

“The best thing to do is to dual the A1, which would take the pressure off the A697.”

Coun Sanderson added: “Because of its inadequacies, the A1 is becoming a less attractive proposition for drivers so more and more traffic is using the A697, which is a small country road with more hazards.

“The lack of dualling the A1 is largely the culprit here.”