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Drivers at risk as A12 patrol team gets axed in cuts

By Essex Chronicle  |  Posted: May 24, 2012

  • A digger spilled on to the road after the lorry carrying it crashed into a bridge on the A12 at Hatfield Peverel

  • Tailback caused by the digger crash

  • ON THEIR WAY OUT: An Atkins Incident Support Unit on the A12

  • Mick Thwaites

  • DELAYS: Two lanes of the A12 were closed on Monday when a digger on a lorry struck a bridge at Hatfield Peverel

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MOTORISTS using the A12 will be left vulnerable to fatal crashes and lengthy traffic jams, according to the team who patrol the road but who are due to lose their jobs due to budget cuts.

Within weeks, the 20 Incident Support Unit (ISU) workers who patrol the A12 from Brentwood to Ipswich will be axed, due to a government funding squeeze.

They claim this will increase accident response times, leave the road in a state of disrepair and cause more crashes.

"We have had 20-minute response times for 27 years for a reason and leaving debris in the road can cause serious accidents," said retired policeman Barry Edwards, one of the men losing his job.

"A motorcyclist could be taken out by a pothole if there are not the patrols to spot them and clear them up like we do."

Mr Edwards is employed by private firm Atkins, which has a contract with the Highways Agency and hires 70 staff to patrol the A12, A14, part of the M11 and A120.

But due to public-sector cuts, these 70 workers – including the 20 that patrol the A12 – will be replaced by 20 new workers who must cover the entire region.

On Monday, two lanes of the A12 were blocked after a digger being carried on a low-loader lorry struck a bridge at Hatfield Peverel and fell on to the carriageway, causing long tailbacks.

Mr Edwards said this sort of incident will lead to even more chaos when his team is scrapped.

Retired chief superintendent Mick Thwaites, who hopes to become police commissioner of Essex, said: "This is going to cause more crashes, more serious injuries and more people killed. It can't be the right way to go. It's crazy."

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