A HUNDRED drivers have been fined in a fortnight for flouting the law by ignoring no entry signs to dodge Worcester’s notorious roadworks and traffic jams.
Police officers handed out a hundred fixed penalty notices, which include a £90 fine and three penalty points, in just two weeks (up to Tuesday, April 1) as drivers head the wrong way along the city’s Britannia Square, through the red no-entry signs, along Hebb Street and on to the main A38. Historically, drivers have used it as an illegal cut-through to avoid the traffic lights in Castle Street and congestion through the Tything and Barbourne.
However, police responded after neighbours complained the situation had become much worse because of the recent roadworks.
Last Sunday alone officers handed out 20 tickets, running out of penalty forms so they had to return to the station for more. Officers handed out 12 penalty points in just 12 minutes on that Sunday.
The one-way section of Britannia Square also includes a cycle lane. Officers stressed it was illegal for anyone to drive through the no entry signs, including the emergency services.
PC Alex Denny and PC Mark Broughton said there had been a number of ‘near misses’ and stand-offs between motorists when they met head-on.
PC Boughton said: “On one occasion a car drove into an off-duty police officer’s leg and it was deliberate. Last Wednesday a car brushed past a community support officer’s leg.”
When a driver in a Golf R32 was stopped on Sunday going the wrong way at speed, fed-up residents cheered officers.
PC Denny said: “There have been a number of incidents and it literally is a serious accident waiting to happen due to the nature of the junction and the speed at which vehicles approach it.
You get some poor excuses like ‘I didn’t notice the signs’. There is a severe risk of head-on collisions. We don’t want any cyclists knocked off their bikes – that would be catastrophic.”
He said drivers, who knew they should not go through the no entry signs, accelerated to get through the 50 metre prohibited section more quickly, increasing the risk.
He said: “It is difficult to enforce because we can’t be here permanently. You get a lot of people trying to avoid the traffic at rush hour.”
Sometimes there are tense stand-offs where motorists travelling the correct way along Britannia Square (in the direction of Castle Street) refuse to reverse when they encounter a car going the wrong way.
There is a blind entry for drivers going the right way from Hebb Street into Britannia Square.
One resident, who declined to be named, said: “There’s going to be an almighty smash here. Residents are both getting abuse from and giving it back to the drivers.
"We say ‘you’re going the wrong way.’ There is some colourful language sometimes. You’re told what you can do.”
West Mercia Police now want to see bollards put in to protect the cycle lane and for the markings on the road to be repainted after raising concerns with Worcestershire County Council and the Safer Roads Partnership.
John Ball, of Britannia Square, said: “I want to say thank you to the police for what they have done.
“They have been attending most days for the last two weeks when the roadworks have been on.
“Hopefully the people who have got caught will have learned a lesson.”
However, Bob Peachey, a former Worcester city and county councillor, who lives nearby in York Place, said the restrictions had made the junction much safer than it had been before.