March 11 2014 Latest news:
Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Traffic calming measures should be introduced to stop swans being “slaughtered” at a north Essex beauty spot, a charity head has said.
Alex Smith, of Swan Watch, says six birds have been knocked down and killed by vehicles travelling along the riverside road known as the Walls in Mistley since the start of the year.
She says the deaths have been caused by drivers who are not taking notice of the 30mph speed limit signs in the village, putting the future of the its famous 300-strong swan herd at risk.
She said: “At this time of year there is often water on the road, which attracts the swans. They also come onto the greensward next to the road because they need some grass in their diet.
“But much of the traffic is speeding and they can’t stop. It has been slaughter in the past three weeks – it’s as bad as it has ever been. At this rate a large proportion of the herd could be killed over the next year.”
Swans have been associated with Mistley since Roman Times and up until the mid-nineties the herd was fed on left-over barley that came from the maltings firms operating in the area. Now Ms Smith and her supporters feed them once a day.
She believes the only way to prevent more deaths is to put speed humps in the road to slow passing traffic.
“People are in such a rush these days and the swans are very slow and deliberate when crossing the road- they need a helping hand from us,” she added.
Ms Smith’s cause has been supported by parish councillor, Ian Tucker, who feels the “iconic” swans are central to the Mistley’s identity.
He said: “There are drivers who use the road as a rat run to get to Manningtree station and go too fast.
“An electronic sign that tells drivers their speed would be an effective way of slowing people down – it would also protect pedestrians in the area.”
But not everyone feels drivers are totally to blame.
One resident, who asked not to be named, said: “If swans are being fed by a busy road – what do people expect will happen?”