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Lorry misdirected by sat nat wrecks home

PUBLISHED: 09:34 03 March 2009 | UPDATED: 08:01 01 August 2010

A LORRY misdirected by a sat-nav caused damage put at thousands of pounds after it "sideswiped" a home near Bungay yesterday.

The drama unfolded as retired teachers Martin and Margaret Canter were reading the morning newspapers over breakfast in their kitchen at home on Ditchingham Dam at around 8.

A DITCHINGHAM couple watched in horror this week as a reversing articulated lorry hit their house, causing thousands of pounds worth of damage.

The incident happened when the lorry found it could not get from Ditchingham Dam into Bridge Street, Bungay and was manoeuvring to turn round.

But as Martin and Margaret Canter counted the cost, out-dated satellite navigation information was being blamed - and Suffolk County Council pledged later to file updated roads maps to those programming sat-nav equipment.

The drama unfolded on Monday as the retired teachers were reading the morning newspapers over breakfast in their kitchen at home on Ditchingham Dam at around 8.20am.

The couple, who are in their sixties, watched as a lorry stopped outside their house after the driver realised he could continue no further towards Bungay and tried to turn around in Falcon Lane, alongside their home.

Mrs Canter said: “I said to Martin, 'he's going to come in', half-jokingly. We've seen it so many times when they have actually managed to turn around. Then there was this almighty crunch.

“We ran to the front door and we couldn't open the front door or the gate.”

The impact caused part of the building to shift, leaving cracks in the walls and ceiling of the hall and rendering the front door unusable.

Her husband said: “He stopped outside and blotted out the light for 10 seconds. Then he manoeuvred and tried to turn round. He had several goes at turning round and backed up the trailer, which was high-sided, side-swiped the house, knocked the porch down and damaged the hall. He then gave up trying to turn around. He drove away and did not stop.”

The couple caught a glimpse of the company name on the side of the lorry through their kitchen window but could not get outside to note down the registration number.

Luckily, a 70-year-old neighbour came to their aid by chasing after the lorry on her bicycle, catching up with it as it reversed for hundreds of yards back along Ditchingham Dam before making its turn in a side road.

The incident highlighted an on-going problem for Ditchingham Dam residents. Mr Canter said: “Even the new sat- navs say that it's a through road. I would say over 100 vehicles turn around here every day and more at the weekend. Many of those are not lorries, but we do get big articulated lorries. It's the articulated lorries that are the problem.”

Neighbour Deirdre Shepherd, a Bungay Town councillor who lives on Bridge Street, sympathised with the couple, who remodelled their house two years ago and now face a hefty repair bill.

“They worked so hard - they put their heart and soul into it,” she said. “It's terrible what goes on with the lorries there; the problem is that sat-nav has got it down as Bridge Street being temporarily one-way. We have to do something about it - it's so dangerous when they come down a one-way road the wrong way.”

Now the couple are calling for roadside signs to warn drivers not to rely on their satellite navigation devices but to read the signs, which tell drivers coming off the A143 roundabout, known locally as the chicken roundabout, that there is no through route to Bungay.

“The drivers get cross,” said Mr Canter. “They go off feeling stupid.”

He added: “People get quite mesmerised by sat-nav - they don't even know what town they're in.”

A spokesman for Norfolk police said the driver of a lorry had been spoken to, and that an investigation was ongoing.

# Suffolk's response - see page two.

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