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Traffic worries in Wells

PUBLISHED: 16:23 03 June 2009 | UPDATED: 10:51 07 July 2010

Wells councillors urged police to help control peak-season traffic around the harbour, claiming the Bank Holiday gridlock could have hampered a lifeboat call-out.

Wells councillors urged police to help control peak-season traffic around the harbour, claiming the Bank Holiday gridlock could have hampered a lifeboat call-out.

Tailbacks crept along Beach Road and onto The Quay as thousands of holidaymakers and day-trippers poured into the town to enjoy the sunshine on May 23.

And while motorists struggled in the heat in Wells, an extended police presence was in nearby Walsingham to patrol the annual National Pilgrimage.

At a meeting on Monday, members of Wells town council asked why more officers could not be spared to smooth the traffic flow in a town which drew much bigger crowds than the spiritual event a few miles away.

Sgt Andy Smith, of Wells Safer Neighbourhood Team (SNT), said he had limited resources and the historic problems between differing religious groups justified the extra presence at Walsingham.

He said he would discuss the issue with specialist traffic control officers and agreed to monitor the quayside this weekend to assess the problem.

Town councillor Gary Anthony said: “It was gridlocked. If there had been a lifeboat shout the crews would have had difficulty getting down the station. It is an emergency waiting to happen.

“Walsingham had 2,000 pilgrims compared to five times that amount coming to Wells on the same day.”

Councillor Ray Hewitt said: “When we know it is going to be busy on days like Bank Holidays, could we not have some sort of police traffic control on the junction of the quay?

“Thirty years ago there would be a big traffic problem coming up the beach road and we used to have police to control the traffic, mainly the special constables.”

Sgt Smith said: “Unless it is an emergency situation it is not something we can put in place.

“It is difficult to change staff shifts at short notice but it is something we need to look at to ensure there is sufficient staff, if feasible.

“The issue with Walsingham is that we knew that the rival factions can sometimes get a bit lively, but in the event it was all under control and we did have more staff there than we needed, but we still needed that contingency in place.”

Sgt Smith said the town's perennial problem of illegal parking was also being addressed, with SNT officers having already issued more tickets since Easter than during the whole of last year.

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