Following the news that road deaths in Cheshire have more than doubled since 2017, Action 540 aims to make Neston’s highway safer.
When local people met at Neston High School in June 2019 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the death of Andrew Fielding on A540 Chester High Road in 1994, they resolved to join forces and campaign for radical improvements in that road from Lees Lane to Liverpool Road in Neston. Now, just a few weeks after that event they have held their first meeting and resolved to intensify the campaign until it succeeds in making this road safer and more effective for all road users. And the campaigners insist that in future it must be ‘PEOPLE BEFORE TRAFFIC’.
The new group – called ACTION 540 – is a coordinating body for the extensive campaigns being carried on tackling this dangerous stretch of road, including some of its links such as Quarry Road and Upper Raby Road. Representatives from local groups and interested parties, such as Neston High School and Neston Town Council, shared information and ideas for the future and expressed a determination to step up the campaign and to keep working for improvements for the benefit of road users, particularly children attending Neston High School.
ACTION 540 aims to supplement rather than replace the work of existing groups that have highlighted:
• A dangerous increase in incidents on the A540, Quarry Road and Upper Raby Road;
• The lack of a proper record of such incidents;
• The area has become a NO GO area and this avoidance behaviour masks the true danger of the network;
• Abuse of residents by drivers who ignore efforts to control traffic flow and speed;
• Lengthy detours taken by parents to avoid the A540 and get their children to school safely;
• £45000 per year spent on school bus passes for children that would be unnecessary if there was a safe walking route to school;
• Increasing use of the road by heavy goods vehicles, possibly from the Aldi distribution centre;
• Increasing traffic using Quarry Road as a short cut to Hooton Station or the M53;
• High levels of pollution at junctions such as Hinderton Road.
On a positive note, the group heard that Pauline Fielding had met Cheshire West and Chester leader Councillor Louise Gittins and looked forward to continuing positive engagement with the local authority to resolve the dangers of the A540 in Neston. Justin Madders MP told the June meeting that the argument about the dangers of A540 had been won; and Councillor Barker emphasised that point and noted that further hard work is needed to win the resources to deliver the improvements. The group welcomed interim changes in lines and signage at the Raby Park Road junction that are planned in the autumn – but were clear that these were no substitute for a comprehensive scheme that made the A540 through Neston safer and more efficient.
The group elected Phil Lloyd to chair its meetings, with Ceri Lloyd as secretary – both of whom are Neston residents and members of RoadPeace. And it committed itself to some key actions:
• Maintaining a record of all incidents on the A540, Quarry Road, Raby Park Road and Upper Raby Road;
• Obtaining further information on levels of traffic on the road, including that from the Aldi Distribution Centre;
• Attending key local authority meetings in order to ask questions about plans for improvements to the A540 and possible sources of cash to carry them out;
• Joining with other campaigns that had the potential to strengthen the case for improvements to the A540.
Pauline Fielding, who has been campaigning for 25 years, welcomed the adoption of Vision Zero by Cheshire West and Chester Council – aimed at reducing road deaths to zero in the local area. Road deaths in the county more than doubled in the past year to reach 46, while those in London, where the Mayor adopted Vision Zero in 2017, road deaths have fallen to 111, the lowest on record. Action is needed in the county – starting with the A540 in Neston.
The group will meet again in November and will be campaigning hard in the meantime.
ACTION 540 chair Phil Lloyd said:
“The campaign to make the A540 safer has gone up several levels with this meeting of local action groups. Each of the separate campaigns deals with a different aspect of the dangers of the A540; Action 540 will make all of them even more effective by creating a single high-profile approach supported by key local organisations and politicians. The A540 and its link roads are crucial to Neston – but they must be made safer and better for all road users. Too many people have been killed or injured already; and too much time wasted in getting improvements. Action is needed now.”
If you want further information on the campaign, please contact Pauline Fielding, 0151 342 6381 or 07703 357504 or firstname.lastname@example.org