Cheshire West and Chester Council and the campaign group for safety on the A540, Action45Zero, are working together on design options for major road improvements.
Following the death of her son at the A540/Raby Park Road junction, Pauline Fielding and other resident groups have long-campaigned for improvements along the A540, particularly at its junction with Raby Park Road. The recently formed Action Action54Zero Group, campaigning for safety improvements along the A540, met with the Council to discuss preliminary proposals.
The meeting follows submissions received in the recent ‘Play Your Part’ consultation on the Council’s next four year budget plan. Both the Action54Zero Group and residents of Neston responded seeking improvements to the junction, as well as other locations on the A540. Their recommended improvements include providing better and safer walking routes to Neston High School as well as upgraded access arrangements at Quarry Road.
Councillor Karen Shore, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment, Highways and Strategic Transport said: “I am pleased to be able to confirm that funding has been allocated in this coming financial year to develop proposals that will seek to improve the safety of the A540 and in particular, the junction with Raby Park Road.
“Following a recent meeting which took place with the campaign group, our team presented initial proposals and will be able to start to design, scope and plan the delivery of improvements on the A540 from April 2020.
“I look forward to working with the Action54Zero group to progress this further and would like to thank Mrs Fielding and the group for their passionate and determined campaign to improve safety and connectivity on this stretch of highway.”
Pauline Fielding, the mother of Andrew Fielding, said: “It’s hard to believe that after more than 25 years of campaigning to reduce dangers on the A540, in particular the junction of Raby Park Road with Chester High Road, funding has been allocated to develop proposals to achieve this and that Cheshire West and Chester Council are working together on design options with our campaign group, Action54Zero.
“It’s almost 26 years since our son Andrew died at the junction in a crash caused by a driver who did not stay at the scene and who was never traced. We had long recognised the dangers of the junction and had always avoided turning there, so we determined we would campaign to prevent the same thing happening to others as had happened to us.
“On behalf of my family and Action54Zero which represents a wide range of interested parties I would like to express our appreciation for the recent constructive response from the Council to our longstanding concerns about the A540. It is a significant example of how the Council budget process can work well for communities.
“The A540 is a vital connection for Neston and it is essential that it is both safe and efficient. We believe that the traffic light proposal for Raby Park Road, linked to changes at related junctions and to pedestrian access to Neston High School, is both necessary and sufficient to meet our stated requirements. We look forward to continuing our work with CWaC to provide a solution that improves safety for all road users, especially the most vulnerable.”
As well as recent road marking improvements on the A540, the Council is proposing two options to be developed further, one of which includes signalisation of the Raby Road junction and improvements to footpaths. Once designs are complete, the project will move into delivery phase with anticipated completion in 2023/24.
The Council and Action54Zero have arranged future meetings to continue the development of the scheme.
MP for Ellesmere Port and Neston Justin Madders, said: “I am delighted that the Council have recognised the need for improvements on the A540 and are going to fund them. This recognition is a vindication of the many years of campaigning by Pauline Fielding and other local people about the need to make that stretch of road safer.
“Local authority budgets have been extremely stretched in recent years so the fact that these proposals have been accepted is a tribute to the strength of the campaign and the resourcefulness of the council to make this a priority.”