Put a pedestrian refuge at busy Kettering junction, councillor pleads

Many cross away from the traffic lights, leaving them stranded in the road as they wait for a gap

Friday, 24th September 2021, 7:00 am
Pedestrians often cross away from the traffic lights and have to stand in hatched markings in the middle of the road

A Kettering councillor has pleaded for a pedestrian refuge to be installed at a busy junction - five years after an island was removed during controversial highways works.

In 2016 traffic lights were removed at the junctions at the top of Northampton Road into Sheep Street and Bowling Green Road, with a large pedestrian island near the Station Road turn also taken out.

The works helped traffic flow more freely through the busy route, which would often previously become a bottleneck.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

But they also confined pedestrians to one official crossing point at a new set of lights between Headlands and the war memorial.

Since then many who decide not to walk up to the official crossing take a shorter route by walking into hatched markings in the middle of the road and waiting for a gap in the traffic, often forced to run to get across in time.

And Cllr Clark Mitchell (Lab), who represents the Avondale Grange ward on Kettering Town Council, thinks a pedestrian refuge should be installed there to increase safety for pedestrians.

He said: "Whilst this (the 2016 road change) may have made sense in a road planning sense it didn't take into account how people use that junction.

"Even the workers who did the improvements saw how pedestrians used that road and moved the temporary lights to be outside the vets - yet still installed the permanent ones in the current location.

"This was a mistake then and it is a mistake now.

"We shouldn't ask for an island of the same stature as before but something needs to be out there for pedestrian safety. People walk down Sheep Street and cross the road to go to the train station. In the morning, when they are in a rush, they don't think about using the actual crossing. They just wait for a gap in traffic and dash across the road and wait in the painted off area in the middle."

Cllr Mitchell submitted a motion at last week's Kettering Town Council meeting to lobby North Northamptonshire Council to install the pedestrian refuge.

However an amendment to the motion by the ruling Conservatives was instead passed, meaning they will ask the leader to write to the highways department requesting that they carry out a new safety audit at the junction.

Cllr Mitchell said that with Northlands vets moving to Station Road, people returning to their offices and pupils back at the two schools in nearby Headlands, footfall in the area is only going to increase.

He added: "We have tragically already had one fatality on that road.

"How many more will it take for the mistake that was made in 2016 to be rectified?"

A North Northamptonshire Council spokesman said they would be happy to liaise with the town council on the matter.