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20-Year-Old Student Tells Council The Human Cost of The Bridge Street Accident

Published on: 14 Apr, 2016
Updated on: 16 Apr, 2016
George Bowen addressing Guildford Borough Council

George Bowen addressing Guildford Borough Council (photo GBC website).

George Bowen, a 20 year-old University of Surrey student, movingly described the human cost of local road casualties suffered in Guildford town centre in February.

Two pedestrians, Kat Garrett, 30, and Del Kendall, 45, died as a result of a Landrover mounting the kerb.

Representing those who had organised an online petition urging road safety improvements, Mr Bowen spoke to the full council meeting on Tuesday evening (April 12),  and quoted the partner of Del Kendall who died from his injuries several days after the incident:

She had written: “I seriously hope for the sake of residents and businesses in Guildford that you take immediate action and put suggestions into action as soon as possible.”

The response to the ePetition, Mr Bowen said, had been overwhelming. It had been signed by 11,000 people including 2,800 from Guildford.

Mr Bowen continued: “It is a well known fact that Bridge Street is an incredibly dangerous road.

“If we could take action now to prevent such tragic events from happening again we should do everything in our power to make those changes and make Guildford a safer and more welcoming place for its residents, visitors and workers.”

Then he quoted Lorraine Moody, the partner of casualty Del Kendall: “My partner Del was on his way to see me on the afternoon of the accident on Bridge Street. He sustained multiple injuries and was placed in an induced coma for eleven long days until his injuries were too much for him to survive. We then had to make the awful decision to allow Del a peaceful passing.

As you can imagine myself and Del’s family have been left utterly devastated with the loss of our loved one, aged just 45.”

The Landrover Defender that mounted the pavement in Bridge Street leading to the deaths of two pedestrians.

The Landrover Defender that mounted the pavement in Bridge Street leading to the deaths of two pedestrians on February 20.

Then, suggesting some possible measures to address the problem, Mr Bowen said: “I am not going to profess to being a transport expert but… possibly a lower speed limit, with speed cameras to make sure that people who treat Bridge Street like a race track don’t… and suggestions of railings and bollards have also been made.

“Having railings to stop people crossing the road could prevent potential accidents from happening.”

Cllr Matt Furniss, (Con, Christchurch) lead councillor for infrastructure, responded, reminded the meeting that GBC was not the authority responsible for highways and that Surrey Police had yet to complete their investigation into the incident. But he said that GBC had been heavily involved, with SCC, in work to improve pedestrian safety around the town.

He added that a new wider Walnut Tree Bridge was being planned and that the existing Bridge, which takes about 5,000 movements of pedestrians and cyclists each day, would remain open during its construction expected to commence in Autumn 2017.

A new ‘micro simulation model’, recently upgraded with funding from GBC, would allow traffic planners to assess “with a high degree of precision” the highway proposals, including those for Bridge Street. A new Guildford town centre group, that meets every six months, was already investigating potential schemes for the improvement of the environment for all road users.

Bridge Street, Cllr Furniss said, is one of two locations that is causing particular concern regarding road safety.

“Each year the accident record of the gyratory is consistently poor. This indicates that pedestrian safety is unsatisfactory and that is why we are working so hard with Surrey to see what we can do to resolve this.”

Caroline Reeves, (Lib Dem, Friary & St Nicolas) opposition leader said: “I am very conscious of the pain and stress that this accident has caused and in this case it was a true accident and distresses both the families of those we have heard from tonight and also the driver’s family, who were in the car at the time.

“We have heard very clearly of the issues… with near misses happening by day and night. I would urge that we consider 20mph zones not just here but in other areas of the town centre, where too many drivers drive too fast and too recklessly.”

Cllr Parker (GGG, Send) said: “I am keen to see some kind of action as soon as possible because, while I am sure the committees will deliberate the optimal solution, waiting until sometime in 2017 is a long time to wait and how many other people are going to die before something is implemented.”

She suggested that some form of temporary fencing or barrier could be quickly put in place.

David Reeve GGG (Clandon & Horsley) urged that if it was a matter of money GBC consider the use of any available contingency funding.

The council leader, Paul Spooner (Ash South & Tongham) summing up, said: “…it is all too easy as a quick reaction after a major incident to react boldly and then quite soon forget.”

Cllr Furniss re-entered the debate to say that countermeasures would not necessarily have to wait until 2017 but that temporary type fencing was not seen as a suitable solution as it afforded pedestrians no protection and could even cause more casualties.

George Bowen responding to the council debate, wanted to “…really try and drive home the issue of immediacy. Plans have been in motion and the issue has always been around on Bridge Street…. Accidents have been happening for years and now this accident was, as had been said, sobering… and we feel this is now the time when we have to take action and make changes.

“Unless something is done in the immediate term who knows what could happen tomorrow, what could happen tonight. This happened out of the blue and it can happen again out of the blue.

“The human cost far outweighs the monetary cost.”

The petition is now to be presented to Surrey County Council who have said that they will be happy to accept it.

See also: One Pedestrian Killed and Others Injured in Onslow Bridge Traffic Incident; Opinion: Latest Tragic Pedestrian Fatality Should Cause Pause for Thought and Second Person Dies After Bridge Street Accident

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Responses to 20-Year-Old Student Tells Council The Human Cost of The Bridge Street Accident

  1. Chris Ogle Reply

    April 15, 2016 at 11:54 am

    It looks like George Bowen did a very good job of presenting the case but it feels as though he was trying to push water up hill.

    One or two councillors certainly seem to agree with the petition, ie to get something done quickly. But it feels as though the leadership do not sense the urgency. Very disappointing to get the reaction that the GBC is not the authority responsible. Also very hard to understand why the police investigation is taking so long.

    I feel a bit mystified by the comment that it is all to easy to react boldly after an incident like this. Reacting boldly is far better than doing nothing.

    Cllr Furniss mentioned a new town centre group that meets every six months. It is hard to imagine that any group that meets just twice a year can get anything done. Is this a council group or independent?

  2. Sevy Singh Reply

    April 18, 2016 at 11:05 am

    Maybe a list of those councillors who do not see Bridge Street and the rest of the terrible race track gyratory system as a pressing problem could be named, so we know who not to vote for at the next elections.

    All the councillors who were present for the debate at the full council meeting on Tuesday, April 12th, voted in favour of a motion that concluded: “The council will forward the petition to Surrey County Council who are the highways authority, and continue to support and work with them in every way possible to improve road safety in Guildford.”
    The full motion and a webcast of the whole debate can be seen via the GBC website. Ed.

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