Mark Spencer, MP for Sherwood, June 2011

MarkSpencerMPSherwood MP Mark Spencer has won a Road Safety Parliamentarian of the Month Award from the charity Brake and Direct Line for his campaign for safety improvements on the A614, a road plagued with devastating casualties. The campaign has recently achieved a reduced speed limit and improved signage, but continues to press for further engineering and enforcement measures to stamp out needless tragedies.

The A614 is a single carriageway rural road that runs through Mark's constituency. It is a key road for commuters travelling in and out of Nottingham, which has seen two fatal crashes, claiming eight lives, in the past 18 months alone. From January 2005 to June, 2010, 271 crashes were recorded, resulting in 11 deaths and 450 injuries, causing horrendous pain and trauma to the families affected[1].

People in Sherwood recognise something must be done to prevent further tragedies and have been campaigning for the deadly situation to be resolved. Mark has supported their campaign for years, as MP for Sherwood and previously as a parliamentary candidate.

Together they have been calling for a reduction in the speed limit from 60mph to 50mph and improvements to the Rose Cottage and Micklesdale Road junctions, which would cost an estimated £1.5 million to upgrade. However, if just one death was prevented, the monetary savings to society would immediately outweigh the costs,[2] as well as preventing needless human suffering.

In response to the campaign, the Nottingham City council promised to introduce hidden dip signs in the area. They also pledged to monitor speed and collisions and consider further engineering measures. While there have been improvements to the road in the past decade, such as extra lighting and road resurfacing, the underlying safety issues have not been resolved. Mark decided to take the fight to Westminster.

On 3 November 2010, Mark held a Westminster Hall debate to fight for improvements on the A614. He called for "better funding for the local county council to make the necessary improvements and for a look at the wider lessons that can be learned from roads such as the A614". Mark also raised the vital issue of young driver safety, stating that "young drivers are not trained on the roads and the conditions most challenging to inexperienced drivers - rural single carriageways".

On 13 June 2011, Mark brought Road Safety Minister Mike Penning to visit the road to see the dangers first-hand and meet with some of the bereaved families who support the campaign. Following the visit, the Minister met with local councillors and officials from the Highways Authority to discuss solutions. He publicly stated his support for a lower limit and average speed cameras on the road.

Days later the campaign saw a partial victory when the 60mph limit on the A614 was cut to 50mph on the stretch between Ollerton roundabout and Leapool roundabout.  

Although the speed reduction is a huge breakthrough Mark believes that there is still work to be done and he will continue to fight for improvements at Rose Cottage and Mickledale Lane junctions.

Mark Spencer MP says "I am delighted to win this award. Our campaign's success is the result of the hard work of many people, not just mine, and I hope we can all continue to work together to further improve road safety in Sherwood. The A614 has been a major trouble spot in the past and I am glad I could help make this road safer for everyone."

Julie Townsend, Brake campaigns director, said: "Bringing people together to tackle road safety problems and prevent needless tragedies on our roads can be an uphill struggle, especially during this era of spending cuts. But it's vital that we continue to invest in road safety, to stop devastating and costly deaths and injuries and the human suffering that results. Mark has demonstrated great persistence and determination in fighting for road safety alongside his deeply concerned constituents and bereaved and injured victims. Brake congratulates Mark for his hard won progress in making the A614 safer, and offers its backing to the community in achieving further safety improvements."     

Communities worried about road safety problems can access advice and support on campaigning for safer roads by reporting their concerns to Brake's Zak the Zebra mascot at www.zakthezebra.org or by calling Zak's hotline on 08000 68 77 80.

[1] See http://www.newarkadvertiser.co.uk/articles/news/Minister-backs-A614-campaign
[2] The Department for Transport's estimated cost saving to society of one prevented road death is £1.6million, Road Casualties Great Britain 2009, Department for Transport 2010