MP's fears over football fans' safety

AN MP has claimed that urgent action needs to be taken to prevent a major road accident as fans walk to and from Colchester United's new stadium.

Roddy Ashworth

AN MP has claimed that urgent action needs to be taken to prevent a major road accident as fans walk to and from Colchester United's new stadium.

Bob Russell, MP for the town, said he feared there was a serious risk of someone being seriously injured or killed while walking along Boxted Road at the end of football matches at the new Weston Homes Community Stadium.

The ground will see its first major fixture tomorrow when as many as 8,000 fans descend on north Colchester to see the U's take on Huddersfield.

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However, because of the unsuitability of local roads and the lack of parking, supporters are being encouraged to use public transport or walk to the ground instead of going there by car.

Now Mr Russell - who is chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Road Safety Group - has warned that the route being taken by people travelling on foot into Mile End is fraught with dangers.

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He has asked Essex County Highways and Colchester Police to investigate and take immediate as well as long-term action.

“For the first few hundred yards after leaving the stadium there are no street lights. The pavement is narrow, and there is some overgrowing vegetation.”

Referring to his walk back home in the dark after last week's night-time friendly game, Mr Russell said: “It was like walking along a country lane, except that this was a very crowded path - with buses travelling very close to the pavement, at what I thought was at a speed too fast for the conditions.”

He added: “I am fearful that there could be a serious incident if this situation is to be a permanent feature after matches, and other events, at the community stadium which generates a large volume of pedestrians using Boxted Road.

“In the interests of safety for pedestrians I believe the pavement in Boxted Road, from United Way to the entrance to the former Severalls Hospital, should be widened.

“Further, I believe that street lights should be installed along this section of Boxted Road.”

Yesterday Mark Howard, deputy cabinet member for highways and transportation at Essex County Council, said: “We are grateful to Mr Russell for his comments and have already intervened to address the issue of the overgrown shrubbery caused by an adjacent property.

“The footway along Boxted Road is of a standard width of 1.7 metres, passable to at least two people at a time and an adjacent verge can be used by more pedestrians as well.

“We are keeping the situation under review and will continue to observe pedestrians using the route on match days.

“We also have a Travel Plan Group which considers all access issues to the new stadium and they will consider the issues Mr Russell raises and any other feedback they receive.”

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