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How endless HGV traffic is ruining the best place to live in Wales

If you’re looking for a town to enjoy a splendid walk and a locally-sourced latte then you’ll struggle to find a better spot than Usk.

In fact if you go by the Sunday Times’ Best Place to Live[1] guide you won’t find a better spot in the whole of Wales than the quaint Monmouthshire town.

There is a farmers’ market and plenty of independent shops and galleries as well as cafes vying to produce the best fare using local produce. And there’s nothing like enjoying all that goodness in the glorious afternoon sunshine while a 34-tonne articulated lorry chugs down the pavement towards you. Right?

Sometimes you might even get a clout around the ear while you’re walking down the town’s Bridge Street or while taking in the view from the bridge over the river.

“I have been hit multiple times,” said Kathryn Challenger, who has lived in the area all her life – moving from house to house in the same street. “But it gets worse – they come straight over the bridge here and crash into the walls,” she explains from her home directly opposite the bridge. “It’s dangerous and can be quite scary.”

Kathryn Challenger, who has lived in Usk all her life, said she has often been hit by lorries while walking over the bridge
Kathryn Challenger, who has lived in Usk all her life, said she has often been hit by lorries while walking over the bridge (Image: WalesOnline/Rob Browne)
Bridge Street in Usk, where lorries are cramming through the town again as pandemic restrictions have eased
Bridge Street in Usk, where lorries are cramming through the town again as pandemic restrictions have eased (Image: WalesOnline/Rob Browne)

We wait for what feels like five minutes to cross the road at the end of the bridge while two 30-tonne lorries carrying chickens pass by as well as three other equally large vehicles. As they pass the traffic comes to a standstill while the lorries try not to hit each other, the sides of the bridge, and even people’s homes.

Kathryn points: “Look at this one. There are chickens in there. Just a couple of weeks ago one like that went straight into the wall. Sometimes they don’t even realise they’ve done it. But imagine if someone had been walking there.”

The town actually has a ban on lorries coming through that weigh more than 7.5 tonnes – brought in more than 40 years ago after protests over environmental concerns, but issues remain – and residents believe it is due to poor enforcement. Difficulties pinpointing banned vehicles arise because some lorries that are over the weight limit are allowed through Usk to deliver goods.

“Some of them that do come over are ridiculous,” Kathryn added. “I think half of them aren’t allowed to be here – but what can we do?”

There are alternative routes. Lorry drivers could get off at the A449 at Raglan and travel via the A40 or head to the Coldra roundabout.

Residents pointed out that earlier in the pandemic when temporary traffic lights were used at the town’s main Bridge Street road to help social distancing on the narrow pavements – causing traffic pile-ups – considerably fewer lorries used the town as a “rat run”.

The bridge over the Usk in the town centre
The bridge over the Usk in the town centre (Image: WalesOnline/Rob Browne)

Liam Ellis, who drives a 34-tonne truck from Raglan transporting straw to farmers, said he is allowed to travel through Usk, but regularly receives abuse when he reaches Bridge Street – with some motorists refusing to move out of his way in protest.

“It’s not pleasant at all,” he said. “Sometimes I find myself waiting to be shouted at. There is clearly a problem because we’re allowed to drive through there but Usk is an absolute nightmare to drive through. But for me it’s the only logical route to get to my customers.

“A solution could be a separate foot bridge adjacent to the existing bridge so the road at the bridge can be widened for vehicles and people aren’t walking across there. I know it can’t carry on like this. Something needs to be done but I don’t know what the best solution is.”

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There are regular instances of lorries meeting at particularly narrow points in the road before incidents of road rage inevitably ensue. Lorries have also been entangled in scaffolding while resident Angela Colclough said she has seen vehicles “destroy hanging baskets” from the front of people’s homes.

“It’s ridiculous really and it can get you down at times,” she said. “Slowing the vehicles down might discourage them. Perhaps we could do with some speed bumps. The clear answer is another road around the town but I don’t think that will happen now. Why don’t they fine them heavily? If there is no punishment for banned lorries it’ll keep happening.”

Angela Colclough
Angela Colclough (Image: WalesOnline/Rob Browne)
Lorries meeting at Bridge Street, which residents and traders say is very common and is dangerous
Lorries meeting at Bridge Street, which residents and traders say is very common and is dangerous (Image: WalesOnline/Rob Browne)
Bridge Street in Usk, where lorries above the 7.5-tonne weight limit are actually banned unless they're delivering to businesses
Bridge Street in Usk, where lorries above the 7.5-tonne weight limit are actually banned unless they’re delivering to businesses (Image: WalesOnline/Rob Browne)

Gwent Police said they would only be able to issue fines if they caught a vehicle going across a limit-restricted bridge and then took the vehicle to a weighbridge to find out how much it was over the restriction.

A group of residents and councillors set up a ‘lorry watch’ scheme intended to report banned vehicles to Monmouthshire County Council’s trading standards team but they said they’ve had minimal success in getting banned vehicles punished and have turned attention to “discouraging rather than preventing”.

Councillor Alec Leathwood, who helps run the scheme and was one of the first to get the weight limit introduced in the town more than 40 years ago, said: “I remember lying in the road in protest all those years ago. We’ve been battling for a long time but we’re still stuck with it.

“We had quite a few volunteers but people got fed up because vehicles were being reported and then not much was getting done. We’ve now accepted that there seems to be no way to keep heavy-goods vehicles out but we can discourage them.

“We try to do that by being visible while identifying vehicles that have no right to be here and by campaigning for changes to the road to make drivers aware they’re coming into a very different area. We could also do with better signage so lorry drivers know what the restrictions are well before they get to Usk – not when it’s too late.

“We just hope there isn’t a major incident. Fortunately, so far, we’ve got away with it.”

There is signage around the town warning lorry drivers about the weight limit but councillor Alec Leathwood said there needs to be better signage on the way into Usk
There is signage around the town warning lorry drivers about the weight limit but councillor Alec Leathwood said there needs to be better signage on the way into Usk (Image: WalesOnline/Rob Browne)
It's a common sight in Usk
It’s a common sight in Usk (Image: WalesOnline/Rob Browne)
There are also weight limit signs at the car parks in the town
There are also weight limit signs at the car parks in the town (Image: WalesOnline/Rob Browne)

A spokesman for Monmouthshire council said: “There is advanced warning of the weight restriction on the A466 and A4042 so we would anticipate the majority of HGVs travelling through the town would have a requirement to do so – or are contravening the restriction in the full knowledge of their actions.”

Martin Sholl, the joint owner of Number 49 tea room in Bridge Street, said he’s noticed HGV traffic increasing significantly in recent weeks as lockdown restrictions eased. Authorised lorries that are above the weight limit deliver to the business but he said a balance needs to be struck.

“[Bridge Street] is back to being full again and the challenge we have is when two meet and the wing mirrors are well over the pavement either side,” he said. “It doesn’t just cause traffic issues – we’ve had people hit by them. The issue is this road is used as a thoroughfare and that is unlikely to change until there is better enforcement.”

Martin Sholl
Martin Sholl (Image: WalesOnline/Rob Browne)
Lorry drivers have called for the bridge to be widened by removing the pavement and having a separate foot bridge
Lorry drivers have called for the bridge to be widened by removing the pavement and having a separate foot bridge (Image: WalesOnline/Rob Browne)

He said he “isn’t convinced” the majority of lorries that pass through are authorised. “Many vehicles that come through from Blackwood don’t stop in Usk – they use it as a shortcut to the M50,” he added. “I’ve taken photos of some lorries and you just think to yourself: ‘My goodness, you should not be here’.”

Lynne Morgan at Bunnings of Usk builders’ merchants said: “I don’t think there was any point in the [weight limit] ban in the first place. We need the deliveries and I can’t see a solution that pleases everyone.”

References

  1. ^ Best Place to Live (www.walesonline.co.uk)

Lorry driver praised for parking under motorway bridge to stop man jumping off it

A lorry driver has been praised after parking beneath a motorway bridge[1] which it was feared a man would jump off.

A photograph shared on social media show a man sat on the edge of a bridge flanked by what appears to be two police officers.

Cheshire Police said it was called to a bridge over the M62[2] by Warrington[3] on Tuesday afternoon due to safety concerns.

Vulnerable Citizen Support Leeds, a community interest company providing welfare services for those in need, shared a photograph of the incident on their Facebook page to raise awareness of mental health issues.

The non-profit organisation said it was sharing the image to show “it’s okay not be ok”.

The group, who also deliver food to the homeless, praised the lorry driver for taking action.

“What a trucker,” the post said. “Stopping on the hard shoulder and leaving his truck there – to ensure when he did jump it wasn’t a longer distance to the floor.”

It added: “What people don’t understand is that to jump on the other side of any bridge – indicates something drastically wrong with [their] mental health. But whats next?”

Social media users were united in praise for the lorry driver, with one user commenting: “Trucker is a good human and deserves the utmost respect.”

Another wrote: “God bless the trucker and I hope and pray the man who was suicidal gets the help he needs and deserves.”

Highways England confirmed to The Independent that the M62 was closed at Junction 9 by Warrington on Tuesday due to a police incident.

A Cheshire Police spokesperson told Sky News reports of safety concerns for a man on an M62 bridge by Warrington came through on Tuesday afternoon.

She said: “A full closure was put in place while officers and specialist negotiators attended to the scene to engage with the man who was brought to safety and handed into the care of paramedics.”

If you are experiencing feelings of distress and isolation, or are struggling to cope, The Samaritans offers support; you can speak to someone for free over the phone, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email [email protected], or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch.

References

  1. ^ motorway bridge (www.independent.co.uk)
  2. ^ M62 (www.independent.co.uk)
  3. ^ Warrington (www.independent.co.uk)

Road closed after crash between car and lorry

The A10 is closed after a crash between a car and a lorry.

Police said officers were on the scene at Southery, shortly before 3pm on Friday.

“The road is currently closed in both directions and motorists are advised to avoid the area,” Norfolk Police said in a social media post.

Sensors show traffic is queuing in both directions on the road, south of Downham Market.

This may be made worse by the closed B1160 at Wissington, which might otherwise have served as a diversion route for some.

• For up-to-date information about the county’s roads, visit our LIVE Norfolk traffic map[1].

• Join our Norfolk Travel Information group on Facebook[2] for all the latest news on the county’s roads.

References

  1. ^ our LIVE Norfolk traffic map (www.edp24.co.uk)
  2. ^ Norfolk Travel Information group on Facebook (www.facebook.com)

Hero truck driver parks under motorway bridge to save man’s life

A lorry driver who parked underneath a motorway bridge where a man was threatening to jump has been praised.

The heroic trucker moved his HGV onto the hard shoulder and parked it up directly underneath the part of the M62 bridge where the man was sitting over.

He then left it there until the man was safely escorted off the bridge by police.

An extremely distressing image emerged today showing the man, who had climbed over the bridge railing, sat on a ledge looking down at the carriageway while officers spoke to him him.

The image has now been shared by dozens of times on social media with praised being heaped on the lorry driver for his quick-thinking actions.

One person wrote: “Well done to that lorry driver. Hope the person on the bridge gets the help they need.”

Another said: “Trucker is a good human and deserves the utmost respect.”

Vulnerable Citizen Support Leeds posted: “IT’S OKAY – NOT TO BE OKAY.

“This is a picture from the M62 Motorway Bridge – a passerby has posted it to raise awareness of the situation at hand.

“What people don’t understand is that to jump on the other side of any bridge – indicates something drastically wrong with their mental health. But what’s next……..?

“I have family who have been at this point before and still had to wait a week for an appointment when she found herself on top of a bridge – this post is to raise that awareness that – IT’S OKAY – NOT TO BE OKAY – and you can or should speak out.

“What a trucker – stopping on the hard shoulder and leaving his truck there – to ensure when he did jump – it wasn’t a longer distance to the floor.”

Helplines and websites

Samaritans (116 123) samaritans.org operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. If you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at [email protected][1] , write to Freepost RSRB-KKBY-CYJK, PO Box 9090, STIRLING, FK8 2SA and visit www.samaritans.org/branches to find your nearest branch.

For support for people feeling suicidal, if you are concerned about someone or if you are bereaved by suicide see http://shiningalightonsuicide.org.uk[2]

CALM (0800 58 58 58) thecalmzone.net has a helpline is for men who are down or have hit a wall for any reason, who need to talk or find information and support. They’re open 5pm to midnight, 365 days a year.

Childline (0800 1111 ) runs a helpline for children and young people in the UK. Calls are free and the number won’t show up on your phone bill.

PAPYRUS (0800 068 41 41) is a voluntary organisation supporting teenagers and young adults who are feeling suicidal.

Beat Eating Disorders: Beat provides helplines for adults and young people offering support and information about eating disorders. These helplines are free to call from all phones. Adult Helpline: 0808 801 0677, Studentline: 0808 801 0811, Youthline: 0808 801 0711. www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk[3]

Anorexia & Bulimia Care: ABC provide on-going care, emotional support and practical guidance for anyone affected by eating disorders, those struggling personally and parents, families and friends. Helpline: 03000 11 12 13. www.anorexiabulimiacare.org.uk/[4]

Students Against Depression is a website for students who are depressed, have a low mood or are having suicidal thoughts. Bullying UK is a website for both children and adults affected by bullying studentsagainstdepression.org[5]

For information and links to charities and organisations that can help with substance abuse, visit https://www.supportline.org.uk/problems/drugs/[6]

Download the LancsLive app for free on iPhone here and Android here.[7][8]

You can sign up for free daily updates with the LancsLive newsletter here[9]

References

  1. ^ [email protected] (www.lancs.live)
  2. ^ http://shiningalightonsuicide.org.uk (t.co)
  3. ^ www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk (www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk)
  4. ^ www.anorexiabulimiacare.org.uk/ (www.anorexiabulimiacare.org.uk)
  5. ^ studentsagainstdepression.org (www.studentsagainstdepression.org)
  6. ^ https://www.supportline.org.uk/problems/drugs/ (www.supportline.org.uk)
  7. ^ iPhone here (apps.apple.com)
  8. ^ Android here (play.google.com)
  9. ^ the LancsLive newsletter here (www.lancs.live)

Heroic Lorry Driver ‘Saves Man’s Life’ By Stopping Under Motorway Bridge

A lorry driver[1] had been branded a hero for potentially saving a man’s life when they stopped underneath a motorway bridge.

A distressing image shows a man sat over the edge of a bridge on the M62[2].

However, when the driver spotted the man up ahead, he parked his vehicle on the hard shoulder, right beneath him, stopping him from jumping.

Since the picture was shared online, people have praised the driver for his actions.

Writing on social media, one user said: “Well done to that lorry driver. Hope the person on the bridge gets the help they need.”

Echoing these sentiments, another commented: “Trucker is a good human and deserves the utmost respect.”

Credit: Vulnerable Citizen Support Leeds
Credit: Vulnerable Citizen Support Leeds

Vulnerable Citizen Support Leeds shared the picture and encouraged people to talk to someone if they’re struggling.

The organisation wrote: “IT’S OKAY – NOT TO BE OKAY.

“This is a picture from the M62 Motorway Bridge – a passerby has posted it to raise awareness of the situation at hand.

“What people don’t understand is that to jump on the other side of any bridge – indicates something drastically wrong with their mental health. But what’s next……..?

“I have family who have been at this point before and still had to wait a week for an appointment when she found herself on top of a bridge – this post is to raise that awareness that – IT’S OKAY – NOT TO BE OKAY – and you can or should speak out.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

“What a trucker – stopping on the hard shoulder and leaving his truck there – to ensure when he did jump – it wasn’t a longer distance to the floor.”

Dozens then piled into the comments to share some kind words.

One person wrote: “What a great guy that trucker is to help like this. I hope help has been found to support this man . Not a nice place to be at all. Lonely and frightening.”

While another added: “Well done to the lorry driver it brings back some faith in humans mental health issues are awful and we need better support rather than let it get to this stage.”

UOKM8? is a campaign by LADbible, featuring films and stories that provide advice and inspiration on mental health. Explore more here and don’t suffer in silence. Let’s talk mental health.[3]

CALM:[4] Outside London 0808 802 5858, inside London 0800 58 58 58.

References

  1. ^ lorry driver (www.ladbible.com)
  2. ^ M62 (www.ladbible.com)
  3. ^ Explore more here (www.ladbible.com)
  4. ^ CALM: (www.thecalmzone.net)

Hero lorry driver ‘saves man’s life’ by parking under bridge to stop him jumping

A heroic lorry driver may have saved the life of a young man who he saw perched perilously close to the edge of a motorway bridge.

A distressing image showed a man had climbed over the railing of the M62 bridge and was sat on the end, looking down towards the busy road.

When a lorry driver spotted him, they moved into the hard shoulder and parked up, leaving the truck directly underneath the man who was on the edge of the bridge, Leeds Live reports[1].

The striking image has been shared by dozens of people and many commentators have lauded the actions of the driver of the heavy goods vehicle.

One person said: “Well done to that lorry driver. Hope the person on the bridge gets the help they need.”

A photo of a man sat on a motorway bridge above a lorry
The driver’s actions have been praised (Image: Vulnerable Citizen Support Leeds)

While another added: “Trucker is a good human and deserves the utmost respect.”

Vulnerable Citizen Support Leeds posted the image on social media, writing: “It’s okay, not to be okay.

“This is a picture from the M62 Motorway Bridge – a passer-by has posted it to raise awareness of the situation at hand.

“What people don’t understand is that to jump on the other side of any bridge – indicates something drastically wrong with their mental health. But what’s next……..?

“I have family who have been at this point before and still had to wait a week for an appointment when she found herself on top of a bridge – this post is to raise that awareness that – it’s okay not to be okay – and you can or should speak out.

“What a trucker – stopping on the hard shoulder and leaving his truck there – to ensure when he did jump – it wasn’t a longer distance to the floor.”

The Samaritans is available 24/7 if you need to talk. You can contact them for free by calling 116 123, email [email protected][2] or head to the website[3] to find your nearest branch. You matter.

References

  1. ^ Leeds Live reports (www.leeds-live.co.uk)
  2. ^ [email protected] (www.mirror.co.uk)
  3. ^ website (www.samaritans.org)

Johnson sends two naval ships to an island off the French coast after riots over fishing rights | abroad

An island between the United Kingdom and France appears to be the epicenter of a real diplomatic spat between the two countries. Channel Island’s population of just under 100,000 could expect two British naval ships to be off their coast at any moment. They were sent by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to monitor things and “calm down” things.

The British government sent two patrol boats towards the French tonight. This came in response to the “retaliatory measures” announced by the French yesterday. Minister Annick Girardin (Sea) threatened in Parliament, the possibility of cutting off the transmission of electricity from France via a submarine cable to the island.

The minister said she would regret it, but if she had to, she wouldn’t hesitate. She said she discovered last Friday that the British had introduced new access conditions for French fishermen, allowing them to be active in the area for a shorter period of time and to remove fewer species of fish from the waters.

The UK has published a list of 41 French fishing boats subject to new terms it says have not been “agreed, discussed or notified” as part of the UK’s exit deal with the European Union. “Totally unacceptable,” says Girardin. She fears that if France does not take action, fishermen will also be banned from other British waters rich in fish.

‘Totally unfair’

A spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson clarified the decision to send the ships tonight. “There is an urgent and urgent need to de-escalate the situation and to enter into a dialogue between Jersey and France over the arrival of the fishermen.” Cut off the power supply “completely disproportionate”.

The island of Jersey is located more than 20 kilometers from the coast of Normandy. It is not part of the United Kingdom but is a property of the British Crown. Because it is closer to France than England, electricity comes from the European mainland.

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