IT could have been carnage in Alnwick last week and my wife and my daughter could easily have been among the victims.
In glorious sunshine at the same time the day before, they were standing in the very spot a car careered out of control through the Market Place.
Had it not been for the terrible British weather, I could be attending the funerals of two people dear to me this week. I was shaken to the core.
I was not alone – many others in the Market Place that afternoon felt the same sense of shock. The aftermath was distressing enough, with some traders losing years of work, but it must have been horrific to witness. Accidents happen and we must be careful not to hold a witch-hunt, but we don’t want to see a repeat.
Some may argue that it was a freak accident that could have happened anywhere, but the complete hotch-potch in the Market Place does not help, with many drivers blatantly breaking the law and parking there all day. It must be sorted – and quickly.
A mix of pedestrianisation and car parking does not work in such a small area. Drivers entering the Market Place are confused whether a market or other event is being held. They are also unsure whether they should be there or not, or whether they are allowed to park. It’s a mess.
Either Alnwick is a market town and has a market place to be proud of, or it is not and the area must be handed back to the motorists.
I would prefer to see a thriving market place full of bustle, cafes, a pub, music and a home for the excellent festivals for which Alnwick is famous.
Now is the time to ban cars from the Market Place so motorists are never confused whether they should be there or not.
A couple of retractable bollards at the entrance and exit, allowing selected keyholders, like the emergency services, market managers and traders, access at certain times, will go some way to solve the situation. Bollards could also have prevented Thursday’s accident.
Some Market Place traders will no doubt point to the customers who (illegally) park right outside their premises to shop or pick up a sandwich and who may well be driven to shop elsewhere, but I believe creating a safer, more family-friendly environment, with more entertainment such us buskers, will actually draw more people, like myself, into the square and improve their trade.
As a transition town, should we not be discouraging the use of the car anyway?
For the sake of a few lazy drivers who cannot be bothered to park in legitimate car parks and walk, we may again have the blood of shoppers, visitors, townsfolk or our children on our hands and next time it could be far worse.