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Road safety campaign letter – 2 Mar 2015

Letter received today from Julie Pörksen

Dear all,

Please find attached the letter I have sent to both the head of the Highways Agency (responsible for the A1) and Northumberland County Council. I hope we can get some action on the main routes first as there are known road safety problems on these then put pressure on for any other works required on smaller roads.

I will let you when I get a response.

Kind regards



Road safety on diversionary routes during A1 dualling

I am writing to raise a number of points with regard to safety on Northumberland’s A roads after significant discussion with local residents, particularly from the Powburn area.

The announcement of dualling the A1 though to Ellingham and improvements through to Berwick announced in December was given an estimated four year preparation and planning period and a 12-18 month build time (from December 2018).

This A1 dualling timetable provides deadlines which I believe should be taken into consideration for safety improvements to the A697 and A1068. During the A1 build traffic will divert onto these alternative North-South roads – either through signed diversions or driver choice. These roads have existing road safety problems and increased traffic will increase the likelihood of collisions, injuries, fatalities and delays.

A number of safety measures exist on the A697, such as speed cameras in Longhorsley and Longframlington, yet this has not been effective in changing driver behaviour and speeding is still prevalent along the road, the recent speed survey in Powburn confirms this.

Taking the example of the Powburn area in detail there are a number of key road safety issues which are of major concern to residents and on which action is sought:

  1. Average speed cameras – continuous enforcement of the speed limit throughout Powburn village using average speed cameras is thought to be the only way to change driver behaviour. Given the amount of through (non-local) traffic then occasional police enforcement will not generate the behavioural change required in these non-frequent drivers. Given the road layout with two very straight sections both speeding and dangerous overtaking occurs at both ends of the village.
  1. Speed limits – the 40mph zone on the North side of the village is thought of as not causing vehicles to fully slow down before entering the village.
  1. The bridge – given the angle of the bridge to the road this causes problems when HGVs meet as there is insufficient space to pass safely. An alternative route for the footpath would be safer.
  1. Bends on A697 – there are two bends with poor road infrastructure which cause particularproblems for HGVs on a regular basis, just South of Powburn and at Thrunton. At these two points HGVs frequently leave the road and as well as posing a risk to life cause significant delay in both the initial incident and later recovery of the vehicle, which requires the closure of the road. The road at these points is not fit for purpose currently and could prove disastrous with additional HGV traffic.

These priorities were developed at a very well attended meeting in Powburn where residents, HGV drivers, the Parish Council, County Councillors and the Police all fed into the discussions.

I would be grateful if between Northumberland County Council and the Highways Agency you could take action on the following points:

  1. Publish the approximate proposed diversionary routes as soon as possible, along with a timetable for the planning and preparation stage. I shall be consulting with local residents from communities along the A1 and potential diversionary routes so they can put forward their views and local knowledge on this issue and it would make sense to cover all communities concerned in this process.
  1. Investigate with a matter of urgency the possibility of implementing these safety improvements in Powburn as soon as possible – so that driver behaviour can change before the volumes increase with the A1 roadworks. Given that road safety investigations are at an advanced stage in Powburn already this could be pursued quickly and set an example to replicate the road safety improvement process for the entire diversionary routes.
  1. Agree a process (including community involvement) and funds for improving safety on diversionary routes. As these improvements will be made more necessary by the need for diversionary routes will the Highways Agency be helping to finance improvements needed to creating safe diversions?
  1. During the build it would cause unnecessary delays for there to be roadworks on the diversionary routes, can any planned maintenance be carried out before the A1 starts, and can preventative maintenance such as potholes and any tree pruning/ major verge/drainage works, as well as any planned utilities works, also be carried out beforehand?

I appreciate that the A1 build is some time away however there is a matter of urgency to ensure Northumberland’s roads are as safe as possible before they are put under greater pressure. If you would like to meet to discuss these issues please let me know.


Julie Pörksen

Berwick upon Tweed Liberal Democrats

54 Bondgate Within, Alnwick, NE66 1JD

01665 602 901


  1. Hello James! Thanks for taking the time to get in touch. I haven’t been handed any further information on this matter. However, you could email the Campaign Co-ordinator, Robbie Burn directly at: I’ll also pass on your query to him. Regards! Graham

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