Archive for the ‘Oliver Colvile’ Category
Transport Secretary Justine Greening’s first ministerial statement from the despatch box could not have been in more tragic circumstances.
She confirmed that 37 vehicles were involved in the M5 crash, that seven people died, and 51 people were injured.
Perhaps her most instructive remarks were over how long it would take police to establish the causes of the pile-up.
It may be some weeks until the investigation can conclude on any cause or causes of the incident.
She opted not to dwell on this.
It would be a mistake at this very early stage to speculate about the causes of the collision …. while Avon and Somerset police have indicated that the presence of smoke on the carriageway is a significant line of inquiry, Assistant Chief Constable Bangham has been clear that, in his words to me earlier today, it is “far too early” to jump to conclusions on the causal factors of the incident.
Interesting, though, was the tributes to local heroics.
I would particularly like to pay tribute to the local community, people and businesses in and around Taunton. From local people and hotels offering to accommodate relatives of those injured and members of the public offering support, to local off-duty hospital staff turning up at their hospitals to help to provide care, it was humbling and inspiring to see how selflessly so many people were willing to offer their support to others who needed it.
Plenty of Westcountry MPs made a contribution.
Ben Bradshaw, Labour MP for Exeter, questioned plans proposed by former Transport Secretary Philip Hammond to raise the motorway speed limit to 80mph
She (Ms Greening) says that the road death figures are still heading in the right direction, but my reading of the latest figures was that, even before this terrible crash, we were looking at the first annual increase in road deaths that this country has seen for 20 years.
As she will know, that is deeply worrying to road safety campaigners and others. Will she at the very least have another look at her predecessor’s plan to encourage faster speeds on the motorways by increasing the speed limit?
Ms Greening cautioned against reading too much into one set of quarterly figures.
We should also be conscious of the fact that levels of road safety can, of course, be affected by the weather, so it is not quite as straightforward as simply saying from looking at those figures that there is an underlying reduction in road safety compared with previous quarters.
Tessa Munt, Lib Dem MP for Wells, spoke of her horror at witnessing the fatal crash.
I do not think I have ever seen anything like what I saw on Friday evening. It was an absolute inferno, and it was impossible for me to leave the car on the southbound carriageway to do anything.
Oliver Colvile, Conservative MP for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, alluded to better transport access to the region after the Westcountry’s spine road was closed for much of the weekend.
The M5 is the only arterial dual carriageway that goes the whole way down. Is the minister willing to meet me and people from the south-west to discuss how we can improve that connectivity, and to find ways to ensure that when the motorway is closed, as it had to be, we can get to and from places much more easily?
Neil Parish, Conservative MP for Tiverton and Honiton, made a similar point on “connectivity”.
The M5 is the great arterial road into the South West. However, we need to look not only at the M5, but at the A30 and A303, because they are also major roads into the Westcountry.
Ms Greening said it is important the road network is maintained safely.
As I have said, it is important that we wait for the police to go through their investigation into this particular incident, which could take some weeks, before we can draw conclusions on any actions that need to be taken.