When plans for the “new” Longbridge were first being discussed in the years after the closure of MG Rover in 2005, there was widespread recognition that the development would increase traffic flowing between the new homes, shops and businesses that would be created there and the motorway network through this area.
Some of this would naturally be from the M5 at the Lydiate Ash junction, from which there is the A38 dual carriageway into the heart of Longbridge.
A smaller amount would leave the M42 at Lickey End and either cut up the A38 to Lydiate Ash or risk the regular speed monitoring on the Old Birmingham Road over Lickey, although this would be an odd route for anyone who wasn’t just heading north out of Bromsgrove or had missed the turn at Junction 2, Hopwood.
Ah, Hopwood . . . where at first, in the late noughties, there was a kind of double-edged hope rattling around in the hundreds of pages of something called the West Midlands Regional Spatial Strategy (revoked altogether in 2012).
The plan was for a link road from the M42 at Hopwood, across the open farmland to the east and north of Upper Bittell reservoir (where the dairy herd grazes to produce our village bottled milk deliveries) and into Longbridge.
Well, we didn’t want that to happen, of course, but surely such aspirations meant there was money available to improve the existing A441 through Hopwood and, more urgently, improve public safety by reducing traffic speeds and installing one or two pelican crossings?
These hopes were confirmed when the Longbridge Area Action Plan was approved in 2009 and Page 37 included a proposal for “highway improvements at . . . the A441 between the M42 and Longbridge Lane, including traffic management in Hopwood”.
Almost ten years later and nothing has happened to help the people of Hopwood, apart from the A441 becoming a the focus of a “Community Concern Programme” by the West Mercia Safer Roads Partnership, while the volume of traffic grows and is proven to be consistently breaking the speed limits.
Now, after a pedestrian death on the road, it may become the focus of a “Casualty Reduction Programme”, once the circumstances of the accident are established.
“Reduction”? Surely we don’t want to see any casualties at all? Action by Worcestershire County Council’s highways department is woefully, and perhaps tragically, overdue.