Death-trap road talks loom

Emergency services at the scene of a crash on the A697 near the Bridge of Aln on Friday, December 7, 2012.
Emergency services at the scene of a crash on the A697 near the Bridge of Aln on Friday, December 7, 2012.

Key talks to improve the safety of the A697 are to take place this week, with one campaigner branding the current situation as being ‘almost out of control’.

The road has come under serious scrutiny recently, following a spate of accidents – some fatal – over the last few months.

Only last Friday, two people suffered serious, but not life-threatening injuries, after a collision between a Peugeot and 4x4 on the stretch near to the Bridge of Aln (pictured, right).

Figures released to the Gazette in November revealed that the A697 had double the average number of accidents for rural A-class roads.

Worryingly, these statistics – the most recent figures from the Department for Transport – were complied before recent crashes on the road, including the deaths of pensioners Ron and Sheila Smailes in October, and the fatal accident which killed Henry Robert Blakey – the son of former Alnwick mayor, Eileen Blakey – last month.

Coun Glen Sanderson has been particularly vocal regarding safety improvements on the road and has been lobbying Northumberland County Council on the issue.

And tomorrow, Coun Sanderson is set to meet key County Hall officers to discuss a way forward.

He said: “This issue is very much on the agenda and we have got to make this a priority.

“The current situation is almost out of control. We have had some terrible accidents, with some awful consequences for families and innocent people.

“We have to do the very best to address this urgent issue and get on with it quickly.

“Important background information has now been gathered, regarding the amount and type of traffic, as well as its speed, and this meeting will help us work out what is the best way forward.

“I will give everything I can to persuade the county council to make this road safer.”

Crunch talks will also take place with the Northumbria Safer Roads Initiative over the installation of mobile speed cameras on the road.

“Hopefully, we will get a positive reaction,” he said.