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Anger at 'A140 not dangerous' claim

PUBLISHED: 06:51 24 January 2003 | UPDATED: 16:12 24 February 2010

A COUNCILLOR sparked anger last night by claiming the A140 – on which 79 people have been killed in the last 21 years – was "not a dangerous road".

David Wood, a Liberal Democrat councillor for Peninsula ward, blamed "idiot" drivers for the road's appalling accident record.

A COUNCILLOR sparked anger last night by claiming the A140 – on which 79 people have been killed in the last 21 years – was "not a dangerous road".

David Wood, a Liberal Democrat councillor for Peninsula ward, blamed "idiot" drivers for the road's appalling accident record.

He was speaking at a Suffolk County Council meeting as the opposition Conservative group called for crucial, 10-year blueprints for the A140 and the A12 to be reviewed and improved.

But his claims were described as "a load of rubbish" last night by a long-term campaigner for improvements to the road, which runs between Ipswich and Norwich.

Mr Wood told the meeting he had dealt with numerous accidents on the A140 when he had worked as a police officer.

He said he disputed claims by the Press that the road was responsible for the accidents. "The hell it is," said the councillor.

"It is the impatient idiots trying to get where they are going too soon. It is not a dangerous road – it is a safe road. It's bad drivers that is the problem, not the road."

But Malcolm Sands, who collected thousands of signatures on a petition demanding safety work after the death of 13-year-old Katie Willis on the A140 in 1996, reacted angrily to Mr Wood's comments.

"It's a load of rubbish, I can't agree with that," he said. "The number of accidents itself proves it's not safe, doesn't it?

"The road is very old and is in need of modernising. With the expansion of cars using the road in the next five years, it is going to be absolutely ridiculous."

Mr Sands, from Needham Market, said he still hoped the road would be dualled and added: "There is an element of bad driving in some of the accidents, but even stupid drivers can use a dual carriageway."

The debate came as the Tory group asked for decisions to approve 10-year strategies on the A140 and the A12 to be "called in" and referred back to the council's executive committee.

The authority is ruled by a Labour/Liberal Democrat coalition and both motions to call in the proposals were rejected.

The plans include £837,500 for improvements to the county's stretch of the A140 until 2016 and £5m to revamp the A12 between Ipswich and Lowestoft.

Peter Aldous, deputy leader of the Conservative group, said neither set of proposals "went anywhere near far enough".

He called for the strategies to be "far more imaginative" and criticised the funds set aside for work on the roads.

Mr Aldous said there were "a number of unsafe junctions" on the A140 and if the council did not carry out major work it would be "managing this road with one arm behind his back".

"One cannot dismiss bad driving, but combined with a bad road, it makes a bad accident problem. We have got to make that better," he said.

Guy McGregor (Con, Hoxne) said the council had a "golden opportunity" to improve the road but had only "half-seized" it.

But Joan Girling, a member of the council's executive committee, said the plans were good enough. "I feel duty bound to reduce the number of accidents on the A140. I don't think we will do that with bypasses and dual carriageways. I think that will exacerbate the problem," she added.

Tony Andrews (Lab, Lothingland South) said he was "amazed" the items had been called in and said he could not remember a topic "that has been so well researched".

Bob Tostevin (Lab, Broom Hill) added: "The items have been called into consideration with exactly the same facts. If we reconsidered anything on this basis, decisions would never be made."

n What do you think? E-mail us on eadtletters@eadt.co.uk, but please include a postal address. Write to Letters to the Editor, EADT, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or fax letters to 01473 324871.

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