Crossing campaign started before Molly and Willow’s A15 accident

Molly Williams and Willow James have made a miraculous recovery after they were critically injured when they were hit by a minibus on the A15 between Thurlby and Northorpe in January 2014.  Photo by Joan Baker.
Molly Williams and Willow James have made a miraculous recovery after they were critically injured when they were hit by a minibus on the A15 between Thurlby and Northorpe in January 2014. Photo by Joan Baker.

There is an argument for naming the new pedestrian crossing under construction on the A15 in Northorpe after the two girls whose terrible accident is largely responsible for it.

Molly Williams and Willow James (both 12) were coming home from their first day back at Bourne Academy after the Christmas holidays when they were hit and critically injured by a minibus not far from where the crossing is being installed.

Clare White, son Alfie and daughter Tia-Jane White celebrate the new pedestrian crossing in Northorpe with Thurlby Parish Council chairman Barry Dobson.

Clare White, son Alfie and daughter Tia-Jane White celebrate the new pedestrian crossing in Northorpe with Thurlby Parish Council chairman Barry Dobson.

That was on Tuesday, January 7, 2014 and the two girls are alive to see the crossing taking its long-awaited place near their homes.

In a statement released by Bourne Academy, Molly and Willow said: “We and our family and friends are all extremely excited about the crossing being built.

“It will help people who have just got off the bus, dog walkers and others by, hopefully, preventing any more accidents.

“We will both watch the progress of the crossing being built with great interest.”

It will help people who have just got off the bus, dog walkers and others by, hopefully, preventing any more accidents

Injured schoolgirls Molly and Willow

But it would be a great mistake to think that the campaign for improved safety measures on the A15 between Bourne and Peterborough started after the two girls’ tragic ordeal.

In fact, calls for a pedestrian crossing to be installed in Northorpe and Thurlby have been made made for at least three years.

Coun Barry Dobson, chairman of Thurlby Parish Council, said: “We’re very disappointed that we haven’t got crossings for both of them because one is needed at Thurlby just as much as at Northorpe, if not more so.

“If the numbers of cars going through Baston and Northorpe are enough for a pedestrian crossing to be built there, as the survey by Lincolnshire County Council showed, then they must be going through Thurlby as well.

Police at the scene where Molly Williams and Willow James were hit by a minibus as they were coming home from school at Bourne Academy.  Photo by Alan Storer.

Police at the scene where Molly Williams and Willow James were hit by a minibus as they were coming home from school at Bourne Academy. Photo by Alan Storer.

“We started a campaign three or four years before the accident in January 2014 to reduce the speed limit from 60mph to 40mph and at the time of the accident, it was still 60mph.

“The 40mph speed limit came one month to the day that the girls were injured and the A15 is growing in traffic flow all the time, so we now need to get the county council to do another survey on the traffic flow through Thurlby.”

Molly and Willow’s fight to recover from multiple head and abdominal injuries touched the hearts of parents like mother-of-two Clare White (35), formerly of Thurlby, whose 7,600-name petition and public meeting on Valentine’s Day 2014 was the catalyst for the county council to act.

Clare, who now lives in Deeping St James where it is safer for her daughter Tia-Jane (11) to catch the bus to school, said: “We’re really pleased that the pedestrian crossing in Northorpe has gone ahead and I would rather have something positive like that than have another accident.

Highway engineers begin to construct a new pedestrian crossing on the A15 at Northorpe.  Photo by Tim Wilson.

Highway engineers begin to construct a new pedestrian crossing on the A15 at Northorpe. Photo by Tim Wilson.

“But we’ll keep pushing the council to do another survey for Thurlby which will have exactly the same result as Northorpe.

“I moved from Thurlby to Deeping St James in the middle of last year because of the issue of crossing the A15 to catch the bus and my daughter is going to The Deepings School in September when I’ll want her to be with the friends that she’ll make there.

“It was a hard decision to leave Thurlby but anyone who has tried to cross the A15 realises how bad it is and I’m not just going to disappear from the campaign for a pedestrian crossing in Thurlby because I live outside the area.”

Clare and Coun Dobson can count on the support of Bourne Castle county councillor Helen Powell whose ward includes both Northorpe and Thurlby and who was one of the guests at Thurlby’s Laurence Park Community Hall where the public meeting was held in February 2014.

Coun Powell said: “I am delighted that at last Northorpe residents will have a safe place to cross the main A15 when they travel to, or from, Bourne or Peterborough.

“Approximately 11,000 to 12,000 vehicles a day pass through this crossroads and lots of residents wanting to travel into Bourne won’t use the bus service unless they travel in the opposite direction to Baston, cross the A15 safely by using the controlled crossing there and then catch another bus back home to Northorpe.

“This can’t be right or fair and, as a result, lots of people have worked very hard to bring this pedestrian crossing in Northorpe about and I know that Lincolnshire County Council is delighted that, at last, it is being installed.

* The new pedestrian crossing in Northorpe should be ready for use shortly after Easter.

But Lincolnshire County Council has also pledged to review its position on not providing Thurlby with a pedestrian crossing in about 12 months time.

A council spokesman said: “The new crossing will enhance safety for pedestrians and is the result of a feasibility study carried out by the council which found that the numbers of pedestrians crossing and vehicles passing the A15 at the location met the requirements for a new pedestrian crossing.

“This section of road had been the site of an accident in January 2014, involving two schoolchildren, and work to introduce a 40mph speed limit prior to this accident was completed in February 2014.

“A proposal for a similar crossing in Thurlby has been assessed and was not successful in meeting the criteria.

“However, it will be reviewed 12 months after the Northorpe crossing has been put into operation.”