Safety fears for torch relay

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A MAYOR has called on the county council to rethink its strategy for the Olympic torch relay route due to concerns over public safety.

The procedure put forward for Winslow so far is the enforcement of a ‘rolling road block’, which will see traffic allowed to travel on the opposite side of the road while the torch is carried through the town.

Meanwhile traffic on the same side of the road as the runners carrying the torch will travel behind them.

Mayor of Winslow, Llew Monger, has, however, expressed fears over the arrangements taking place on July 9, stating the event will see more than 1,000 schoolchildren in the town.

He said: “I can see there may be a problem in places like Whitchurch and Winslow when the torch passes through, as we will have a very high concentration of people from the surrounding rural areas.

“What’s more important – public safety or people being a few minutes late on their journeys because they’ve had to take a diversion?

“The headteacher of Winslow Combined has invited all the local school to come and watch the relay with us, and Winslow’s school alone will have 400 people including staff attending.

“The arrangements at the moment will allow northbound traffic to continue through the town – on the opposite side of the road to the torch.

“That means that people standing on the wrong side of the road will have their views obstructed, so will move onto the other side, causing even more congestion.

“Meanwhile, drivers travelling behind the torch bearer will be getting agitated at being held up.

“Some thousands of people should be there on the day – we need a diversion put in place and a road block for an hour to give us a chance to get the children away from the side of the road.”

Aylesbury town council leader, Steven Patrick, said he did not have any major concerns, however, as its officers who have attended appear to be happy with the arrangements. He said: “A lot of people will be involved. But the torch is being brought through Market Square and will continue down the Wendover Road and onto Stoke Mandeville, so with the route being so long, there will not be such a high concentration of people.

“I will, however, be double checking with our officers who have attended all the meetings about the route.”

Rosemary Bryant, of Transport for Buckinghamshire, which is responsible for the road arrangements for the relay, said: “A traffic management plan has to be put in place for the event.

“A road closure is unlikely, however, although no decisions have yet been made.

“Any proposals also have to be approved by all blue light services.”