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Landau drivers call for improvements

PUBLISHED: 12:06 27 July 2009 | UPDATED: 14:30 03 July 2010

GREAT Yarmouth's landau drivers are demanding immediate safety improvements after narrowly averting a repeat of an accident when a coach ploughed into their seafront station and sent horses bolting.

GREAT Yarmouth's landau drivers are demanding immediate safety improvements after narrowly averting a repeat of an accident when a coach ploughed into their seafront station and sent horses bolting.

It was only the swift action of two landau drivers, waving and shouting at the driver, which brought the empty coach to a halt this time after it had only clipped the station's first canopy.

Drivers say the latest drama is the most serious of several near-misses to have occurred since the accident in October 2007, when the then new station was seriously damaged and horses were injured in the ensuing panic.

Kiel Barber, a landau driver for more than 20 years, said: “It looked like it would be a repeat of last time when we saw the coach entering the seafront slow lane that is only meant for us, cyclists and the road train.

“It was only the quick-witted action of the two drivers which stopped another serious accident. The first canopy was clipped but it was only the roof of the coach that showed any real damage.”

Mr Barber said safety measures to keep other traffic off the slow lane - established as part of the seafront's multi-million pound revamp - had been promised after the original accident.

However, a bollard put up at the time had since been knocked down twice and not replaced, and drivers were still waiting for an arch over the lane entrance, which had been suggested as the most reliable way of stopping coaches going astray.

Another landau driver, who declined to be named, said that the road signs were confusing and too small - as a consequence, cars and delivery vans had also frequently strayed into the slow lane as well as coaches.

A Norfolk County Council spokesman said: “We are aware of another incident of a coach driving into the Broadway landau lane. On each occasion the coach has been looking to drop people off for the New Beach Hotel and the driver appears to have mistaken the landau lane as the link to the bus stop.

“After the first incident we put in a bollard to stop any large vehicle that entered the lane in error from going as far as the landau shelters, and to direct them back to the main carriageway. Unfortunately this bollard has been broken twice and we have now asked for a more substantial bollard to be put up.”

He said they would also be talking to the New Beach Hotel to see if coach drivers bringing guests could be warned not to enter the Broadway while looking for a drop-off point.

“Overall, the Broadway is working very well and, along with the shelters, means that Marine Parade is second to none in Europe in terms of facilities for horse-drawn seafront vehicles,” he said.

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