Danger roads alert: ‘slow down’ appeal made in Essex village

HEAVY agricultural traffic is putting lives at risk by speeding through country lanes, a parish councillor has warned.

Chairman of Wicken Bonhunt Parish Meeting, Fabian Bullen, is appealing to the farming community to take greater care when driving heavy machinery through the village.

“For some weeks now I have had a real concern about the speed-to-weight ratio of much heavy agricultural traffic that passes through Wicken Bonhunt,” he said. “It is particularly an issue with grain trucks and low loaders which transport machinery such as tractors.

“My big fear is that if two of these vehicles approached from opposite directions, at the heavy speeds I am complaining about, and collided, then serious damage could be caused to people and property.”

Currently the speed limit on the B1038 through Wicken Bonhunt is 40mph, but Mr Bullen said that the parish was preparing to submit an application to Essex County Council Highways to get the limit reduced to 30mph.

“Whilst recognising that Wicken Bonhunt still has a 40mph limit, and that possibly it is adhered to by most of this traffic, I would claim that a fully laden heavy goods vehicle with some 40 or 50 tonnes, passing just several feet from house exits and narrow pedestrian paths is, at that speed, reckless and careless driving,” he said.

“Cyclists, horse riders, local pedestrians and walkers are taking their lives in own hands when walking along this village road, when they have to confront this type of traffic. In fact you will not see a child anywhere along this lane on a bike or walking.

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“Agriculture vehicles are now bigger, heavier and built to be faster and to carry more weight. For residents and other users of a small village this causes a real nuisance.”

Government criteria have stated that, where appropriate, 30mph should be the norm for villages. Encouraged by recent success in Quendon to reduce its speed limit, Wicken Bonhunt is hoping to be follow suit.

Essex County Councillor Ray Gooding said he would support any village in his area trying to secure a reduced speed limit.

“It is very much the case that some of the villages do need to see a reduction in the speed limit,” he said. “In many ways Quendon has been a trail case in the county and it has been successful – people are certainly more aware that they are driving through a village. Unfortunately there will always be those who break the speed limit.

“Obviously we can’t carry out a programme of reduced speed limits in every village at once, it will be a rolling programme and both Wicken Bonhunt and Clavering will be very high on the list. The conversation with Essex Highways is already underway.”

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