Villagers in call for A697 speed calming

Powburn.
Powburn.

Powburn residents have called for speed-calming measures to be introduced on the busy A697 before someone is killed.

A petition signed by 38 residents – almost a quarter of the village – has been submitted to Northumberland County Council.

Ex-traffic policeman Robbie Burn, who has taken up the cause, spoke about the problem at Monday night’s north area committee meeting.

He said: “There has been a long history of speeding in Powburn but nothing has been done about it and things now actually seem to be getting worse.

“Many vehicles enter Powburn travelling at well over 50mph; sometimes they even overtake.

“And the 40mph speed limit at Hedgeley is totally ignored.

“There are no safe places for the elderly or children to cross either.”

Residents have raised the issue several times over the years, most notably after an HGV crashed into a house on a bend in the centre of the village in 2004.

Mr Burn, who for seven years led the Northumbria Police unit which investigates fatal and serious accidents, has now helped villagers compile a wishlist of measures they believe could slow cars and lorries travelling through.

“Enforcement may be the solution if you have a fixed camera in the village, but if you’re relying on the police it will only be effective when they are there,” said Mr Burn.

“We probably need to consider engineering solutions alongside enforcement,” he added.

“We propose the building of walled or plinth gateways at the northern and southern end of the village next to the 30mph signs that visually appear to reduce the width of the road.

“Traffic islands giving pedestrians a safe way of crossing are also needed along with double white lines throughout the 30mph zone to prevent overtaking.”

He also said that Powburn would be the ideal place to trial an average speed camera, an option currently being explored by the Northumbria Safer Roads Partnership.

“We really need a speed survey to provide real evidence that we are suffering with the speed of these vehicles,” said Mr Burn.

“The Hedgeley parish plan complained about speeding traffic in 2009, but nothing was done about it.

“We need empirical rather than anecdotal evidence.”

Although Powburn has illuminated 30 signs which go off when people are speeding, Mr Burn says they are not as effective as the speed cameras in Longframlington and Longhorsley.

The issue will be debated at the north area committee’s June meeting.

○ A SID (Speed Indication Display) sign is to be sited on the A697 at the south end of Longhorsley in the next month or so.

Coun Glen Sanderson used £4,000 from his members’ small schemes fund to purchase the device.

He hopes that it will stop motorists speeding.