Sunday, August 05, 2007

Newport grinds to a halt.

What a fiasco on Thursday this week brought to you by the Gwent Police . Thousands of motorists faced long delays for most of Thursday after a fatal lorry crash on the M4 on the outskirts of Newport. The driver died when his truck overturned after crashing into the motorway's central reservation between Malpas and High Cross at 0215 BST. The M4 was shut in both directions between J28 (Tredegar Park) and J24 (Coldra) until lunchtime. Delays affected other roads and continued into the evening rush hour. At its worst, there were 10-mile tailbacks in the morning rush-hour. There was a knock-on effect for other roads, with five mile tailbacks on the A449 southbound and congestion on the A48 during the evening peak. Around 60m of the central reservation was destroyed in the crash and that section of the motorway is not expected to be fully reopened until next Tuesday. Traffic jams of 10 miles eastbound and five miles westbound built up during the morning rush hour.

Inspector Lee Ford of Gwent Police said...

"The closure of the road was necessary as we needed to preserve the scene in order for a thorough investigation to take place. It was of paramount importance that the road was made safe for motorists to use. We are now concentrating efforts to get traffic flowing freely and we would thank the public for their continued patience and co-operation."

Well this is not how the public feels. Gwent Police have been criticized for their handling of this accident. I agree with Brynle Williams, the Conservative AM for North Wales when he said ...

“It is time the police got their act together. We are seeing this sort of thing every time there is an accident. Of course it is a great tragedy when someone loses a life but it does not take 11 hours to gather evidence and take photographs. This sort of incident warrants strong comment because otherwise nothing will get done about it. We need to be very critical of the time police are taking to handle accidents all over Wales. They seem to take joy in inconveniencing the public. If the police cannot conduct themselves in a better way than this then we should be looking for better police officers. The Welsh police force is adequately serviced so there can be no excuse.”

I do not think that Gwent Police should have closed the M4 motorway from Junction 28 to Junction 24 for a staggering 11 hours. I do not think that 2 lanes should still be closed to traffic before new barriers are installed. I do not think that there should be a 40 mph speed limit enforced on this section of motorway.

The Gwent Police claim that they want to preserve the scene but what for? This was a single vehicle accident in which sadly one person died, nothing can be done about it now. The Gwent Police did not need to close this motorway for 11 hours. The accident was at Junction 27 so there was no need to close the section from Junction 26 to Junction 24 which they did. Previous experience would tell the Police that if there is a problem with Junction 24 then Newport and the A449 would come to a stand still like it has before. All the Police needed to do was to take some photographs, a few measurements, drag the lorry away and let the world go on. What were they Police thinking, shall we build a Visitor Centre here or just be bloody minded as usual? Remember, the Police are here to protect and serve. We pay their wages and this is how they serve us. If this accident had happened near Junction 4 of the M4 motorway then I bet the local Police would not have closed the motorway for 11 hours. The Prime Minister and the Mayor of London would have kicked the Police into line for being so obstructive.

I think that standard crash barriers should already be in stock to replace the broken section. I do not believe it should take 5 days to have new barriers fitted. If for any perverse reason standard crash barriers are not available then surely the temporary steel/concrete or water filled barrier blocks could be used in the central reservation. What is good for the Green Zone in Baghdad should be good enough for High Cross. There should be no need to close 2 lanes to traffic and cause further daily congestion with temporary barriers in place.

With one lane closed and two lanes open on a motorway there is no need for a 40 mph speed limit - this is being silly. This is a dual carriageway of standard width lanes with no additional hazards. The Police are being over cautious and are using this as an excuse in their usual bloody minded way. The motorway signs now display "Kill your speed" which is quite emotive. However, speed was not an issue in this accident as all lorries are speed limited to 56 mph. Because this lorry was full of fruit and vegetables whilst going up quite a hill it's speed was probably around 50 mph. Yet the Police still like to spin the message of speed kills and make people think this is a dangerous road, so dangerous they had to close it for 11 hours.

On Thursday the Gwent Police really messed up everybody's day. The cost to business is huge and this whole fiasco could have been avoided if the Police were not so bloody minded and abused their powers by closing the motorway. The freedoms in our country are becoming more and more limited by Police forces who treat council tax payers, who pay their wages, like pawns in their fantasy Big Brother Police state.
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