Lorry speeds are to blame

Two weeks ago, you reported the latest ideas of Coun Sanderson to reduce the speed limit on the A697.

It is 60 years since I first came to Northumberland and at that time, there were three main roads from England into Scotland.

One went up the west side through Carlisle, there was the A1, an ancient road into Scotland, and the A697, which was the shortest way to Edinburgh from London.

Now, the post-war government, in its wisdom, started to dual-carriageway the A1 from London, then had the bright idea of building the M1 to Birmingham and through to the A1 in Yorkshire. The northern part then went on to Newcastle and stuck.

The A1 was to be dualled for the Empire Games in Edinburgh in 1964. Money has been a constant battle since the ’60s and this never happened. The A1 is the obvious road rather than the A697, which is the shortest direct route from Morpeth, but goes over the high ground on Soutrar.

I was taught by my officers on the county council that the A697 in good weather is the most direct route from County Hall to Berwick as well as to Edinburgh and I have used it regularly since 1959. The road drives really well with the modern car at 60mph. There are 30mph limits in the villages of Longframlington, Longhorsley and Powburn and, otherwise, in decent weather the bends negotiate mainly at 60mph, but one or two are better at 50mph.

There is this suggestion that the speed limit should be reduced. This last week, on the straight just after the timber yard, I have been over-taken by a white van when travelling at 60mph and the same day a lorry over-took me in the 40mph limit going at least 50mph past the Hedgeley garage, where there have been two major accidents causing deaths.

Yesterday, I drove to Longframlington and saw, in my mirror, a lorry overtake another on the Thrunton straight and was gaining on me while I was going the allowed 60mph. It turned off to Rothbury, so never tried to overtake me.

I don’t think commercial traffic like white vans and indeed lorries know the maximum speed allowed on single carriageway out-of-town roads is 50mph (police speeding classes). My husband said that it was because so many of them are rented for particular jobs, but many I think are regular firm vehicles.

Now it would be ridiculous to lower the speed limit for our A-road against the regular allowed rate in the rest of England.

On what grounds could county do this? In any case, it would cause even further frustration to drivers heading for the Borders.

What is needed is for the present rules to be enforced.

I haven’t seen a police car taking notice of speeding for more than 10 years.

There are cameras in Longhorsley and Longframlington, but not Powburn where there have been regular accidents of lorries driving into houses, doing no end of damage.

Please don’t change this road, just start controlling the commercial traffic speeds.

Anne Wrangham,

By email