Coroner’s letter highlights failings’
WARREN Hay s death might have been avoided if road safety advice, issued 14 years ago, had been acted upon, the district s coroner has said. In a letter to Huntingdonshire District Council, Cambridgeshire County Council and Huntingdon Town Council, David
WARREN Hay's death might have been avoided if road safety advice, issued 14 years ago, had been acted upon, the district's coroner has said.
In a letter to Huntingdonshire District Council, Cambridgeshire County Council and Huntingdon Town Council, David Morris has said that inaction may have caused a tragedy.
Warren, a 16-year-old St Peter's School pupil, was killed by a car in May as he tried to cross the A141 in Huntingdon on his way to Jubilee Park to watch a football match.
After presiding over Warren's inquest, Mr Morris felt so strongly that something should be done to avoid future fatalities on the road that he put pen to paper.
In his letter Mr Morris said that since the teenager's death there had been "widespread local concern" for safety improvements on the A141.
He added: "I would request that some degree of priority be given to this matter notwithstanding the many other pressures on public spending at the present time and no doubt similar issues arising from other fatalities in the county."
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In 1993 when Jubilee Park was in the planning process, the county council questioned the suitability of the site as a recreation centre and recommended that, if planning consent were granted, it should be subject to the provision of pedestrian access.
Highways officers suggested a central island on the A141 and a cycleway/footpath leading along King's Ripton Road to the park.
However, the district council passed the application, submitted by Huntingdon Town Council, without implementing the recommendations.
"It would seem that the elected members granted permission without any such conditions, ignoring the recommendations," said Mr Morris. "Had the advice been taken at that time, this fatality might have been avoided."
He also points out that, since the original planning application, Jubilee Park has been developed further without "consideration given to the road implications".
Mr Morris made three recommendations that he asked be "given serious consideration by those concerned".
One asks for the town and district councils to pay for a footpath/cycleway, which is something the town council said would be discussed at a meeting in January.
Karen Cameron, acting town clerk for Huntingdon Town Council, said: "We sympathise with the family and friends of Warren Hay. The safety and wellbeing of the public using town council facilities is something that we take very seriously.
"In the event that we are approached by either the Highways Authority or district council to provide a footpath we would be interested in working with them."
A spokesman for HDC said it was "giving the letter some thought and would be in discussion with the county council about any possible decisions".
Since Warren's death, CCC has put forward a £160,000 safety scheme for the A141 which would see a ban on right turns into and out of King's Ripton Road. A pedestrian island would also be built on the A141.
However, the Warren Hay Road Safety Action Group - set up to lobby for safety improvements - says this does not go far enough and has launched a fundraising campaign to pay for either a bridge or a light-controlled crossing.
Warren's mum, Maxine, said the coroner's letter strengthened their cause.
"The coroner recognised that, if the planning authority had carried out what was suggested in the first place, then this accident might not have happened, and that is hard to take in," she said. "For a couple of thousand pounds Warren could still be here today. The letter also shows the failings of those in charge at the time and it would be foolish for them not to act on the coroner's words."
Mark Kemp, director of highways and access at CCC, said: "I am pleased that the coroner has recognised the constraints on the county council and noted that the district and town councils should contribute towards the scheme.
"The letter will be considered at the cabinet meeting in December.