Thousands call for safety improvements on bypass after three more people are killed


Following this week's tragic accident which resulted in the loss of three members of the same family, thousands of people are calling for action to be taken to improve the safety of Alderley Edge bypass.

Caroline Harrison has set up a petition calling for the A34 Melrose Way to be made a well lit dual carriage way which so far has been signed by over 3250 people.

She said "Since the opening of this stretch of the A34 there has been multiple accidents - some fatal!!

"This road has no lighting whatsoever.. by making it well lit and a dual carriage way with central reservations, will hopefully cut down the amount of accidents! We need to take control before anyone else looses family members!!"

There have been three fatal accidents, as a result of which six people sadly died, and many other serious collisions on this three mile stretch of the A34 since the £52 million bypass was open by the former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne on November 19th, 2010.

Following a collision involving a car and a minibus on the A34 Melrose Way at 12.04am on Sunday, 4th November, three people died.Liyakat Sidat, 47, and his daughter Hajra Sidat, 14, died at the scene and his wife Salma Sidat, 41, died at hospital.

The family, from the Old Trafford area of Greater Manchester, were travelling in the car along with a nine-year-old girl and a 19-year-old woman, who are currently in hospital. Their respective conditions are described as critical and serious. Additionally, a number of casualties from the minibus were treated at the scene and taken to hospital.

In November 2017 two people died in a road traffic collision on the Alderley Edge bypass when a Ford Fusion traveling towards Congleton was in a collision with a Ford transit van traveling in the opposite direction.

Sadly the driver of the Ford Fusion, an 85-year-old man, and his passenger, an 82 year-old woman, died at the scene. Both were from Newcastle-under-Lyme.

In September 2013, 11 year old Flynn Morrissey died after being involved in a head on collision with another car on the A34 Alderley Edge bypass.

A red Porsche crossed into the opposite carriageway on a bend in the road and into the path of a Ford Focus being driven Flynn's mother by Nicola Clifford. Mrs Clifford had been taking her two sons to school. One was a front seat passenger, the other, 11 year old Flynn Morrissey, was in the back. Sadly Flynn sustained fatal injuries in the head on collision. 

Councillor Craig Browne said "Following the tragic accident last Saturday evening, on behalf of the community of Alderley Edge, I offer my condolences to the bereaved families whose lives will have been altered forever by what has happened. This is not the time for finger pointing; however, there are questions which need answers.

"There have now been six fatalities over the last five years on the same section of Melrose Way; to the best of my knowledge, all have been caused by vehicles attempting to overtake. Twelve months ago, following the previous fatal accident, I called on Cheshire East Highways to introduce a 50mph speed restriction on Melrose Way, as well as double white lines to prohibit overtaking. This is the response I received from the Senior Highways Design Officer, in December 2017:

"The use of double white lines is strictly governed by national guidance as contravention is an endorsable offence. They must only be used where forward visibility is substandard for the speed of vehicles. The forward visibility on Melrose Way (A34) is in excess of the required level for their implementation and as such, they can not be introduced in this instance.At present we are liaising with Cheshire Constabulary and awaiting further details from their investigation in to the recent collision that resulted in fatalities. If through this investigation it is recommended that measures are required, then we will work closely with Cheshire Constabulary to identify the most appropriate evidence led action, including possible speed limit reductions."

"My request for double white lines was therefore dismissed, whilst my request for a speed limit reduction was left open, pending the results of a police investigation which have still not been made available to me. Whilst accidents will always happen, the real tragedy is that three people may have still been alive today, had the restrictions I asked for twelve months ago been implemented.

"Whilst the policy regarding visibility splays may be technically correct, there are now, tragically, six strong reasons why local conditions must be taken into account and action taken, both by Cheshire East Highways and also by Cheshire Police.

"I believe that the petition is well-intentioned and I appreciate the support it will give me in calling for change to be made; however, leaving aside for a moment the obvious cost and time to implement such a scheme (which could run into millions of pounds and several years), dual carriageways tend not to have a positive impact in terms of reducing speed, in fact they usually have the opposite effect.

"No solution is perfect and there will always be road accidents; however, the higher the speed involved, the more likely it is that those accidents will result in loss of life."

Updated" Friday 9th November

Councillor Don Stockton, Cheshire East Council cabinet member with responsibility for highways, said: "This was a tragic traffic accident and our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of all those involved.

"The Melrose Way crash is currently being investigated by Cheshire police and it would not be appropriate at this time to speculate on the possible causes of the collision or whether any additional safety measures are appropriate."

Alderley Edge Bypass


Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Richard Bullock
Thursday 8th November 2018 at 1:22 pm
@Cllr Craig Brown:

You mentioned that the fatal accidents were caused by overtaking: but it seems not to be the case for at least the first two according to subsequent reports. Obviously I don't know what's the truth in this latest incident. The report released after the court hearing following the first incident suggested that in 2013 the driver of the Porsche lost control under the Brook Lane bridge and crossed into the wrong carriageway, but was not actually overtaking anything. The driver claimed to have aquaplaned.

And according to a Staffordshire newspaper, in the incident last year, the elderly couple's car inexplicably crossed to the wrong side of the road on the main bend half-way down. The police statement referred to in the article said they didn't find any evidence of any mechanical or medical issue that could have led to this. Their car was reportedly travelling below the speed limit and not overtaking.

In both instances, it seems that the crossing into the other side was accidental and not a deliberate act. Double-white lines wouldn't have prevented these tragic accidents from happening.
Paul Williams
Thursday 8th November 2018 at 10:33 pm
Sympathies to all concerned in these collisions.

If the speed limit is reduced to 50 or 40mph, the impatient and irresponsible driver will be overtaking more vehicles and taking more risks, and spending more time on the wrong side of the road.

As has been reported, all the fatal collisions involved a vehicle travelling on the wrong side of the road.

I fear a speed limit reduction, on its own, will not prevent this happening again.
Steve Scholes
Friday 9th November 2018 at 7:51 am
A Dual Carriage Way is not the answer.
Reduce the speed limit and install average speed cameras on this section
Duncan Herald
Friday 9th November 2018 at 12:16 pm
There seems to be a difference of opinion as to the cause/s of accidents on the by-pass.
Perhaps the answer may be to have an independent expert examine the road and then give a report?
But who would pay for that?
Marc Asquith
Friday 9th November 2018 at 11:33 pm
Can I just comment, as the Cheshire County Councillor who took the AE bypass from being CCC's priority scheme, which is where Margaret Melrose left it when she retired, to the commencement of construction by CCC and the hand over to CEC to complete, this petition is based on a lack of understanding as to how we got the bypass built in the first place.

We all have enormous sympathy for people who are injured or killed on this road but we have to bear in mind the full facts before leaping to a solution.

From memory, the full title of the project was the "Alderley Edge and Nether Alderley Environmental Bypass". There were numerous problems that the Bypass had to overcome.

Firstly, a dual carriageway had been previously proposed to government for funding and turned down because the additional costs of being a dual carriageway meant that it failed the cost benefit analysis that all such projects undergo. The costs of making the bypass a dual carriageway now would be close to those of the original construction - land purchase etc puts it far beyond what Cheshire East could ever afford and the government would not fund it. The traffic flows remain within those projected for the single carriageway and so the COBA would still fail. The idea was that, since laying tarmac tends to encourage greater traffic flows, the AE Bypass would only have the capacity to take away the flow through the village and send that down the bypass - just leaving local traffic passing through the village.

There are therefore no prospects at this time that the road could be made into a dual carriageway

Had the planning application contained street lighting it would have been opposed by the Nether Alderley Parish Council and many of the Nether Alderley residents. At the public inquiry the only remaining objector, Alderley Edge Parish Council, ( who were also campaigning for a dual carriageway ) withdrew their objection when the inspector made it clear that if they pressed ahead, the bypass might well fail. If Nether Alderley had strongly objected, the risk was a similar outcome. Any planning application now for street lights would meet the same resistance.

Some of the problems of trying to turn the bypass into a dual carriageway now are exemplified by the rail bridge over the bypass. That was a major project in itself and would need to be repeated if we were to try to dual-ise the bypass. The choice was to go over the railway or under. Going over involved a 9 metre high embankment. On top of this embankment would be all the traffic and at night, the light pollution for this quiet rural area would be substantial, there would also be noise pollution and even in the day, substantial visual intrusion would have been created. Going under the railway line takes the road below the water table - so it is laid in a clay trench with substantial piling on both sides of the trench. You can only do the work when the railway is closed. When we built the bypass we used two Xmas holiday periods to complete the work in 2 stages. To complete the work in 2 years required 24 hour working over Xmas 2 years running. The noise of the piling work was huge and I could hear it all night from my house in the centre of Alderley. Imagine the disturbance it caused to the residents who lived closer to the work.

To dual carriageway that part would require a repeat of that work.

I do accept that there are hidden dips in the road and if you ignore the central white lines, you can think that it is safe to overtake when there is an oncoming car hidden in a dip. Improved signage is really the only way forwards here.

Finally, you have to do a counterfactual analysis. Remember what Alderley was like before the bypass ? Frequently gridlocked and a nightmare for pedestrians - the present traffic flow in the village is a shadow of its former self.

Does anyone really want to close the existing bypass for a substantial proportion of a 2 year period and grid lock the village all over again ?

Sadly this petition is poorly thought out and should not be supported.

I hope to return to CEC in the elections in May 2019 in the Chelford Ward, which includes the Parish of Nether Alderley. I therefore anticipate working closely with Craig Browne to see if something can be done to make the road safer which will be acceptable to the local residents and the Council finances.
David Carey
Saturday 10th November 2018 at 9:30 am
Got to agree with Steve, lower the speed limit and install speed cameras at set points. The speed limit is too high for this part of the bypass.
Stewart Dyer
Saturday 10th November 2018 at 5:30 pm
I can’t see any basis for lowering the speed limit. Unless it can be proved the accidents happened at a speed between the current limit and the lower one, and would not have occurred at the lower one, then it would be an exercise in futility, serving only to inconvenience the majority of road users.
Stewart Dyer
Saturday 10th November 2018 at 6:00 pm
By the way, I am totally in favour of enforcing the existing limit.
Charlie Gaughan
Saturday 10th November 2018 at 11:46 pm
When the bypass was going through all the consultations and house holders had there say no tunnel. Go under the bridge below the natural water table why did the planners allow a road to be built that has so many blind spots and is a rd with difficulty over taking where is the safety . A lot of people thought it was a duel carriage way not knowing the difference between a duel carriage way and a bypass but why wasn’t it made into a duel carriage way which would have been safer . I know money but that wasn’t the answer a bypass is what they asked for
Roy West
Tuesday 13th November 2018 at 5:13 pm
Thank you Marc for your comprehensive explanation regarding the initial planning application, no one wants to see a return to the village gridlock situation, it is already bad enough at times. Better warning signs in advance of the bends might help.