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Calls for action on Alphington 'rat-run' road

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: December 17, 2013

Doctors Walk Balls Farm Road

Doctors Walk Balls Farm Road

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EVERYONE agrees that a narrow city road needs to be safer but how to do that is the problem.

Doctors Walk/Balls Farm Road is closed to traffic between 7am and 9.30am each weekday morning.

But residents regularly count an average of 60 cars using it in that time, when many children are using the road to walk to school.

While city police say that it cannot be a priority for enforcement and should be closed off permanently, highways officers counter that closure would be ‘problematic’.

Roy Hill, county councillor for Alphington and Cowick, said: “This road is a problem of safety which has to be looked at.

“The police have tried education and it doesn’t seem to be working so we now need some enforcement action.

“A lot of children walk along this road to school at West Exe.”

Dr Andy Swain knows the problem only too well as his daughter was hit by a car while walking to school.

Dr Swain said: “My daughter was standing to one side to let the car pass but the car bumped her as it passed, knocking her into her friend – and the driver told her that she should watch where she was going!

“I frequently count 60 cars in 30 minutes going along the road.”

Dr Swain added: “This is a problem that it only going to get worse as Alphington Road and Cowick Street are getting busier all the time.”

A local resident, who did not wish to be named, said: “I go jogging with a friend and at 8.15 one morning there was just a constant stream of cars coming along the road.”

Sgt Morris Elphick, who is in charge of policing in the west of the city, said: “From a police perspective enforcement is only part of the issue as highways do have a responsibility and our preference would be for some kind of physical barrier to prevent drivers from going along here.

“It will never stop unless you have something like a raising bollard or block that bit of the road completely so that people cannot drive down Balls Farm Road from Doctors Walk.”

Sgt Elphick added: “The police can and do enforce but ultimately it is not the best use of police time.

“I question if people even know they are doing wrong as I am not sure they pay attention to the signs so a physical impediment is the preferred solution. It would be an inconvenience for residents but they have to balance that with their desire for a quiet road.”

A Devon County Council spokesman said: “The restriction of vehicles during the morning commuter hours to prevent access along Balls Farm Road requires police presence and enforcement.

“The alternative of a physical road closure would be problematic as access would have to be maintained for residents, the farm and equestrian business. Land would also have to be bought to construct turning points at the closure to enable vehicles to turn around, and new traffic regulation orders would be needed.”

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