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Tuesday, 23 September 2014

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Otterburn’s plea is finally heard

DESPITE continued opposition from council officers, Otterburn at last looks set to get its long-awaited pedestrian crossing.

Highways officers have dragged their feet for more than a year over providing a crossing, despite the fact that most people in the village signed a petition calling for one in the wake of a near miss involving a child getting off a school bus.

Officers maintained that the traffic flow along the A696 through Otterburn came nowhere near the council’s criteria for funding a crossing, and favoured traffic calming measures instead costing £15,000.

But councillors have refused to take no for an answer, and at Tuesday’s meeting of Northumberland County Council’s west area committee, agreed the £45,000 required for the project should be found.

The highways department will chip in its £15,000, which will be augmented by £10,000 from Otterburn Parish Council.

And it is also expected more cash will come from EDF Renewables in the form of compensation for inconvenience caused when the A696 was blocked by a transporter that overturned while carrying a turbine to the Green Rigg windfarm at Ridsdale.

Hexham’s Coun. Terry Robson said: “We have discussed this so many times and I don’t think anybody would disagree that a pedestrian crossing is necessary in Otterburn. If we have any credibility at all, we have got to make that happen.

“Anybody who knows that road at all will agree this is necessary for the safety of people.”

Coun. Alan Sharp, of Haltwhistle, claimed nobody had worked harder than he had to make progress on the issue.

He said: “This has been going on for quite some time, and we are not at all happy with the delay.

“I am personally not happy with a scheme just to add cushions to the road.

“The cushions will slow down traffic, and obviously that’s important, but is this scheme going far enough?”

Sarah Robson, from Otterburn Parish Council, said: “A pedestrian crossing was what the petition was for in the first place.

“That’s what we requested and it’s what we still feel strongly is the way forward.

“That’s what’s required for the safety of children and other residents in Otterburn.

“Cushions may slow traffic down, but ultimately we want a safe crossing.”

Coun. John Riddle, whose Bellingham division includes Otterburn, said: “I’m happy if we’re going to progress with this – we just don’t know where all the money is going to come from.

“I am delighted if it’s actually going to happen.

“That is great news.”

He added, however, that he would like the county council to look again as the costs of the crossing, which appeared unusually high.

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