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Residents take a stand over A140

PUBLISHED: 22:42 09 March 2002 | UPDATED: 11:30 03 March 2010

FACED with heavy traffic travelling along Suffolk's most dangerous road – this brave lollipop lady has one of the worst jobs in Suffolk.

And today she backed the Evening Star's new campaign to cut the deadly toll of smashes on the A140, saying: "We all hope it works.

FACED with heavy traffic travelling along Suffolk's most dangerous road – this brave lollipop lady has one of the worst jobs in Suffolk.

And today she backed the Evening Star's new campaign to cut the deadly toll of smashes on the A140, saying: "We all hope it works."

Five days a week, mother-of-two Sheila Banham has been ferrying children across the killer road for 18 months so they can make their way safely to Stoke Ash Primary School – and no better vantage point to the horrors of the road could be found.

Just a few hundred yards away stands the White Horse Inn where on Thursday nurse, Kathy Sparkes began her horrific fight for life after her car collided with a lorry as the mother-of-three drove home from work.

In the last eight years the pub has witnessed two other crashes, one, in 1994, claiming two lives.

But Thursday's crash, which also wiped out the entire porch of the roadside pub, was one more accident that residents along this lethal stretch of road could stomach.

Although they may be scope for added safety measures on the A140, Mrs Banham firmly believed that nothing will improve unless drivers themselves begin to drive more responsibly.

"Sometimes they just drive far too fast," she said. "They don't slow down in anticipation that there may be children about. They just whizz past.

"Yesterday afternoon the traffic was a bit slower following the accident and it may last for a day or two as people drive more cautiously for a time. But they soon speed up again."

At the White Horse yesterday, Shane Aldridge was carrying on, business as usual, as he attended to diners in the pub restaurant. But the trauma of the events of the day before was etched on his face and, highlighting the dangerous speeds of traffic, he reiterated what he had said before: "If something can be done it should be done."

One of his customers, a Stoke Ash resident who lives by the side of the A140 was adamant that it is motorists driving too fast that are to blame for the high incidence of accidents right on his doorstep.

"I've lived here for five years," said David McKaig. "I've seen so many people killed and it's up to people driving. They drive far too fast, it's crazy. It's got to stop.

"I've seen people braking like crazy because their going too fast – at 80 or 90 miles per hour. I've seen motorbikes doing anything up to 120mph. It's absolute madness," said the father-of-two.

"This road is bad news and it's rightly notorious for being a black spot. There a lot of sensible drivers about but they get killed by the idiots."

Heading back southwards, the Star's special investigation team retraced the haunted route of the 79 people in the past twenty years who were unaware that moments later they were to be killed.

People such as Norwich man Barry Pope, the last to die on the A140, who was killed when his van collided with a lorry at Brockford. Two weeks later, the tyre tracks of the lorry were still clearly carved on the far side of the roadside ditch.

The manager of the nearby garage at Brockford Garage, David Canfer, backed the Star's Make the A140 Safer Campaign, saying: "The biggest problem is people and their attitude to driving. They whizz past even if there are speed limits."

Another roadside publican added his weight to the Star campaign, drawing on bitter experience. Joe Buttle, landlord of the Stonham Magpie in Stonham Parva, remembers how a pick-up truck in icy conditions slammed into the bay window of his pub in March last year.

He said that parish council were lobbying for a further reduction of the 40mph through the village speed limit.

"But no one sticks to it," he added. "It's bad during the day but it's even worse in the evening. Some of the wagons come through with empty loads and they just bounce through the village. Everyone worries, especially of they have young children.

He said that trade in his 500-year-old pub relies on passers-by for about 70 per cent of its business and those customers face problems when they try to pull out back on to the A140.

"You have to be very careful. You may see a lorry coming towards you a safe distance away but you can't see someone who's overtaking him. They overtake all the way through the village."

* What do you think of the A140? What should be done about the safety on this stretch of road? Send you views to the Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, e-mail them to starnews@eveningstar.co.uk or fax them to us on 01473 225296.


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