Action mounts for A140 safety measures

COMMUNITY leaders have added their voices to the growing concerns over the deadly A140.They backed calls for action by the father of its latest victim as mother-of-three Kathy Sparkes began to show some improvement in Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge.

By James Fraser

COMMUNITY leaders have added their voices to the growing concerns over the deadly A140.

They backed calls for action by the father of its latest victim as mother-of-three Kathy Sparkes began to show some improvement in Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge.

Today her condition was "definitely improving" and she was able now to sit up, said a hospital spokeswoman.

Feelings are still running high, however, following the horrific accident on Thursday at one of the worst blackspots on a notorious road.

The 36-year-old nurse was travelling back from work at the Hartismere Hospital to her Wyverstone home, near Stowmarket, when her car was involved in a collision with a lorry. The wreckage of both vehicles ploughed into the 16th century pub, The White Horse Inn, at Stoke Ash causing extensive structural damage.

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District councillor Ian Passmore, who lives in nearby Thwaite, said that "urgent action" needs to be taken, saying that the only thing that would sort out problems on the White Horse junction would be a roundabout.

But county councillor Helen Whitworth, whose division includes a 15-mile stretch of the A140, said the council, who took over responsibility for the road last May, need to consult closely with parishes and residents, as they did in the Coddenham area for work on the junction with the B1078.

"The first positive thing to come from the consultation was the installation of a speed camera and the closing the gap. That's very important.

She said possible safety schemes had to be thought through "very carefully".

"I believe that the way forward is in consultation with local communities and not just reacting to yet another awful accident – a long term strategy if you like."

Meanwhile Mrs Sparkes' husband Paul has keeping a bedside vigil at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge while his wife fights for her life.

Mrs Sparkes was involved in the eighth injury accident to happen in the past five years at the Stoke Ash crossroads on the A140 – which is now the subject of an Evening Star campaign to improve safety on the road.

Her father Brian Lockie said: "That damn stretch of road. It's appalling that the A140, with all that traffic, is not a dual carriageway from one length to the other.

"There should have been a roundabout at the White Horse junction years ago. You take your life in your hands on that road, it's murder trying to get across it with people coming down the single carriageway at 70mph.

"It's just appalling, especially when it happens to such a worthwhile person who has spent her life helping others. She's such a good and caring nurse, a brilliant nurse."

Mrs Sparkes' mother Jean added a roundabout was needed at the junction as soon as possible and she also praised the hospital staff who have been caring for her daughter.

"Kathy has been on and off a ventilator in the intensive care ward. When people talked to her, you can see her blood pressure rise on the monitor, so you know she can hear you," she said.

"Paul has been by her bedside and whatever happens, we cannot fault the staff. Hospitals often get run down, but they have been fabulous."

Suffolk County Council has taken over responsibility for the A140 from the Highways Agency and has a £2 million budget for road safety improvements across the county for the coming year.

It is currently drawing up a shortlist of priority schemes and a spokeswoman said: "We have been working to develop a route strategy and accident information is a key factor to decide what improvements are necessary.

"I'm sure this junction will be part of what we need to look at and if there is a specific problem at that spot, that will be addressed."

Mrs Sparkes had been studying for a degree in nursing before the accident and her family are well-known in Wyverstone.

Nigel Marshall, chairman of Wyverstone Parish Council, said: "We value the family very much and our thoughts are very much with the family.

"Paul is very committed to the play area and the Golden Jubilee Committee, serving on the committees of both and she's lovely.

"He is a member of the village carpet bowls club, is very much part of the community and we feel for him greatly.

"He and his wife have lived in the village for about six years and they were organising a children's mini-marathon to raise money for our Golden Jubilee day, a run they also held last year for the play area."

Chris Bacon, a manager at Meredith Greengrass Funeral Services, where Mr Sparkes works as a driver and bearer, said: "Our thoughts are very much with Paul and the family and we are all hoping for a speedy recovery."

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