'Dangerous road' - solution found but questions raised

PUBLISHED: 06:39 13 January 2015

A car overtakes a bus in Stowford Rise

A car overtakes a bus in Stowford Rise

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'Sidmouth's most dangerous road' could be taking a step towards safety after transport bosses reviewed where buses wait - but one civic leader has questioned why it has taken 12 months to enforce a straightforward solution.

Residents have long called for changes at Stowford Rise, where they warn the combination of bus stops, a zebra crossing and rogue motorists risks lives.

Stagecoach has now agreed to relocate its timing point – blamed for drivers losing patience, contravening the keep left bollards and accelerating towards the crossing – but town councillor Peter Sullivan said it knew about the issue a year ago.

Ward member Dawn Manley welcomed the news, saying: “It’s no exaggeration to call it Sidmouth’s most dangerous road.

“People are always coming up to me with the things they have seen, and with the health centre, housing and the gym, there’s so much going on there.

“We have had an assurance there’s going to be an evaluation of the congestion.”

She thanked Stagecoach, Roy Gorman and other Sedemuda Close residents, Councillor Ann Liverton and MP Hugo Swire for helping to reach the solution, which will take 56 days to implement.

Police officers have also been monitoring the scene and warning motorists who drive around the keep-left bollards that they are breaking the law.

Buses are now set to get back on schedule by waiting in the lay-bys further down Stowford Rise, which Cllr Manley said should help relieve traffic.

But Cllr Sullivan, a former manager at the Stowford Community Centre, said that the issue was raised more than a year ago at a community safety partnership meeting.

“At the time, Stagecoach was asked if it would be willing to relocate the timing point,” he said.

“Why has it taken so long to get this scheme implemented?”

Community safety officer Gerry Moore said he had heard reports of near misses almost on a daily basis and, while moving the timing point would help, it is not the only answer for the ‘unsatisfactory’ layout.

“As more services are being provided in that area and the crossing becomes used more, the potential for a serious accident to take place regrettably increases,” he added.

Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council’s highways chief, said that ideas such as moving the bus stop or crossing were ruled out after a site meeting with Stagecoach and the police over the summer.

The council then asked Stagecoach to consider moving the timing point, and again in November.

Stagecoach did not comment on the decision.

● Cllr Manley has also called for a community speed watch on the road, which Sergeant Andy Squires said could be introduced if the police officially identify that there is a problem.

It would need six volunteers to man a speed gun, which the town council bought for Sidmouth’s police.

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