POLICE and villagers are pressing for signs to direct traffic to Nettlecombe after a number of ambulances have got stuck in a green lane.

On at least three occasions ambulances have arrived much later than expected with crews saying their route finders took them down the wrong road.

A parish council request to Dorset County Council apparently fell on deaf ears and now the police have added their weight to the request by putting up temporary signs and writing to the council.

PC Tim Poole said satnavs were directing vehicles down a rutted green lane and lives were being put at risk.

He said: “It is a simple thing but one which could threaten lives.

“The lane they get sent down is a green lane so there is nothing illegal but once you get this sort of weather most road vehicles won’t get through.

“Usually what happens is they go round the first sharp bend where there are several cultivated field entrances so they think they will turn the heavy ambulance with obvious consequences, at which point they give up and call for another ambulance and recovery.

“So while the ambulance is extricating themselves another ambulance has to attend.”

PC Poole has put a temporary police sign at the entrance to the lane with a notice advising motorists it isn’t the turning to Nettlecombe. He has written to the council requesting signs as soon as possible.

PC Poole added: “As far as I am concerned it should be at the top of the list.

“It could be a life-threatening problem.”

Richard Connaughton has reason to know that ambulances get lost.

His elderly and ill mother-in-law lives with him at his Nettlecombe home and on at least three occasions the ambulances were late.

He said: “I know of three incidents where ambulances got stuck in the Nettlecombe triangle.

“On two occasions they arrived late, having gone down that path.

“More recently the same thing happened and we know it got stuck but it wasn’t critical because the First Responder came, looked and saw it wasn’t necessary.”

He said even without taking wrong turns it takes ambulances some time to get to the village.

He added: “Having discussed it locally this is not the only time when we have had a problem.

“We would expect the highway authority to do something more formal than the temporary signs up there now. It could be a matter of life and death.

“Although we don’t want to overreact we do seem to have a problem.

“I am told that someone said you can obviously see it isn’t the right road but in the dark when most of the call outs occur they can’t see and they get stuck.

“I think the community here would like to know that something is being done to take the difficulties out of a situation which is invariably an emergency – you don’t want in-built problems before you even start.”

Crutchley Farm estate manager Anthony Butler has himself pulled an ambulance out that got stuck down the lane and re-directed a camper van lost in the lane.

He said: “There was an ambulance stuck down there which we pulled out, which was on its way to an emergency.

“I found a camper van one day looked for Nettlecombe. Luckily for him it was quite dry so he was alright.

“They said it was the satnav that sent him down there. He was still trying to get down a lane that was far too narrow and grown in.”

A spokesman for Dorset County Council said: “I can confirm that the local police officer has contacted us with concerns about this particular route towards Hine’s Hill and we are looking into the matter.”

A spokesman for South West Ambulance service said: “The Trust is not aware of any specific problem in the Nettlecombe area and uses a combination of sophisticated satellite navigation systems and local knowledge when responding to calls.”