Alan Castle: What is answer to the causeway madness?

THE question must be asked.

Why do some people on Holy Island not want barriers to stop other stupid visitors who risk their lives, and in some cases could be risking the lives of others, after they get trapped by the rising tide in their cars on the island’s causeway?

It is a problem that has been going on for years and as the island becomes more and more popular, it will only increase because, since the days of King Canute, there are always some who think they can either hold back the rising tide or beat it.

They simple can not. Nature wins every time.

Northumberland County Council has come up with a reasonable idea to try to prevent these continuing incidents from happening. It wants barriers erected on the island and mainland side which would prevent people crossing.

So far everyone has been lucky, people have got wet, some very wet, their cars have more than likely been ruined and I am not sure if insurance companies will pay out if they see that drivers have ignored a host of warning signs.

Traffic lights will not work, they will probably be ignored unless we go to greater expense and install CCTV cameras so that people can be monitored as they leave the island.

Only a physical barrier seems to be the answer but the islanders are against it.

In years gone by, some islanders had a nice side-line in taxis to and from the birthplace of Christianity in England. Some will remember them with affection. They were in fact rust buckets.

Visitors were picked up at what was then called the Plough at Beal and ferried across. You would be told at certain periods, ‘lift your feet’, and the water would pour through the floor as the driver found the safest way across.

I do not know if anyone had to be rescued in those days but I presume the only reason would be mechanical failure, because the islanders certainly knew when and when not to cross.

I have also walked it, following the marker poles which indicate the safest way for pedestrians to cross the sands.

The problem will only increase year by year as the island becomes even more popular and people enjoy the unique experience of crossing the North Sea in their cars.

Unfortunately, a few idiots are forcing others to take safety measures to prevent a tragedy.

After the deadline set for this column, a meeting is being held on the island. It will be interesting to see what the locals come up with as a solution to the problem if it is not to be barriers.

IN a recent court case, a man was spotted by police driving while working two mobile phones.

I think that is probably unique but just travel any road in the country at present and you will see motorist after motorist with one hand up to his ear holding a mobile phone and the other on the wheel.

Even with a hands-free system, it has been proved that you are not concentrating fully if listening or speaking.

A colleague was telling me that he recently travelled on a bus and spotted numerous lorry drivers with mobiles to their ears and one even had a magazine propped over the steering wheel. Others were eating, drinking from cans and smoking.

If you are driving, just lighting a cigarette must be as bad as using a mobile phone.

He could well understand how accidents happened as some lorries were travelling at over 55mph, practically nose-to-tail with not even space to get a car between.

No wonder, at times, you hear of lorries crashing into each other. Your chance to brake in time just disappears if you are that close.

The use of phones in cars seems to be increasing.

It is a dangerous practice and the quicker the law starts to clamp down on it, the better.