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'Schoolchildren could be at risk' - Safety fears over two month closure of village road near Norwich

PUBLISHED: 15:34 24 March 2018 | UPDATED: 09:05 25 March 2018

Resident Jacky Sutton and Head of Hethersett Junior School, Matthew Parslow-Williams, at the school entrance, where they are worried about the children's safety when New Road is closed and traffic will be increased on the road outside the school. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Resident Jacky Sutton and Head of Hethersett Junior School, Matthew Parslow-Williams, at the school entrance, where they are worried about the children's safety when New Road is closed and traffic will be increased on the road outside the school. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2018

Fears have been raised that the controversial decision to close a village road for almost two months will put the lives of schoolchildren in jeopardy.

New Road at Hethersett which will be closed for two months at the junction with the B1172 Wymondham to Hethersett road. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYNew Road at Hethersett which will be closed for two months at the junction with the B1172 Wymondham to Hethersett road. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

From Tuesday, April 3, New Road in Hethersett will be closed to traffic as works are carried out to construct a cycle path between the village and Wymondham.

The works are scheduled to last until Friday, May 25, placing strain on other roads in the village - in particular Queens Road.

Both the headteacher of Hethersett VS Junior School and the chairman of Hethersett Parish Council have raised serious concerns that the additional traffic will put children of the school on Queens Road in danger.

Matthew Parslow-Williams, headteacher, said: “The school only has one entrance so all of our pupils arrive and leave down that road.

New Road at Hethersett which will be closed for two months at the junction with the B1172 Wymondham to Hethersett road. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYNew Road at Hethersett which will be closed for two months at the junction with the B1172 Wymondham to Hethersett road. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“The amount of traffic has already increased with other roadworks in the area at the moment, so this will only exacerbate things.

“We recently held a road safety morning for the children with Olly Day for this precise reason, and more traffic using the road will increase the risk even further.

“In congested traffic, some motorists do take more risks and it only takes one person not paying full attention for children’s lives to be put in danger.”

Jacky Sutton, chairman of Hethersett Parish Council, said she envisages “utter traffic chaos” as a result of the road’s closure.

New Road at Hethersett which will be closed for two months at the junction with the B1172 Wymondham to Hethersett road. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYNew Road at Hethersett which will be closed for two months at the junction with the B1172 Wymondham to Hethersett road. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

She said: “I understand the reason for the closure is to limit delays on the B1172 for people travelling to Wymondham. However, this doesn’t help the people of Hethersett. My concern is the safety of pedestrians, particularly schoolchildren.

“The village was not designed to cope with this much traffic.”

A spokesman for Transport for Norwich said: “The decision to close New Road during this phase of work is to maintain two-way traffic along the main road between Wymondham and Norwich. Using temporary traffic signals at the junction would result in significant congestion and delays for all traffic, particularly at peak times.

“Unfortunately it’s not possible to carry out the work without any disruption but we have planned the traffic management to minimise the impact as far as possible.

Hethersett Junior School entrance, where there are concerns about the children's safety when New Road is closed and traffic will be increased on the road outside the school. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYHethersett Junior School entrance, where there are concerns about the children's safety when New Road is closed and traffic will be increased on the road outside the school. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

“The first two weeks of the closure have been timed to coincide with the Easter holidays when the schools are closed. We are also diverting traffic onto an equivalent classification of road, which is consistent with the approach taken with this type of scheme.”

Bus problems

The New Road closure will also have an impact on buses serving the village, with services diverted and of limited availability.

The regular buses serving Hethersett will take diverted routes around the village - the 14 will call at Mill Road and turn at West Croft, while none of the 15 and 13 services will travel along Mill Road,

Hethersett Junior School entrance, where there are concerns about the children's safety when New Road is closed and traffic will be increased on the road outside the school. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYHethersett Junior School entrance, where there are concerns about the children's safety when New Road is closed and traffic will be increased on the road outside the school. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Norfolk County Council has organised shuttle buses between Mill Road and the village hall bus stop on Back Lane, but these will only be provided between 7am and 9am and 5pm until 7pm - and only on weekdays.

A Transport for Norwich spokesman said: “Colleagues in the county council’s travel and transport team have been working with bus operators to put in place temporary service arrangements during the closure of New Road.

“The addition of the shuttle bus is to serve the part of the route not covered by the diversion during peak hours.”

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