Talks planned after A31 traffic chaos on night of fatal motorbike smash

Daily Echo: Police boss in reverse over traffic chaos? Police boss in reverse over traffic chaos?

HE is the police boss who appeared to take a hard line against his officers over their handling of traffic chaos on the night of a fatal road smash in Hampshire.

At first Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Simon Hayes said the welfare of drivers was “not considered” as hundreds were stranded in their cars when a pony escaped on to the A31.

Many were without food, water or mobile phone signals during hold-ups that lasted up to seven hours and were left wondering how long they would be in queues that stretched across the New Forest to the M27 as little information on the length of delays was made available.

But Mr Hayes’ criticism of his force’s handling of the chaos is reported to have led to a backlash among the officers who dealt with the incident, which involved one of two motorcyclists involved in a collision with the animal being killed, while the other is seriously ill in hospital.

Mr Hayes challenged Hampshire’s chief constable Andy Marsh over what lessons could be learned from the situation as members of the public demanded answers.

Now the £80,000-a-year police boss appears to be in reverse over his early outburst – publically saying the police were NOT responsible for keeping motorists informed about the developing drama.

The Highways Agency insist it was the responsibility of police while the AA wants improvements in communications.

Following the crash on January 22 Mr Hayes told the Daily Echo: “I can understand why the road was closed, but I also recognise that hundreds of drivers had their journeys disrupted for a number of hours and I’m concerned that their personal welfare was not considered at that time.

“I’ll be challenging the chief constable on what could or should have been done to support people stuck in the jam and will be looking for answers.”

But yesterday Mr Hayes is reported as saying: “The issue is: is it the responsibility of the police officers dealing with a serious accident to go down the line of traffic letting people know what is happening? I think it is probably not the police’s responsibility”.

He did not clarify whether the welfare of drivers caught in the queues was the force’s responsibility on the night.

No criticism has been directed towards officers on the scene who were under great pressure during the incident.

Police halted traffic after reports of a horse loose on the carriageway – then advised drivers to proceed with caution. The crash that followed claimed the life of a 31-year-old Bourne-mouth man, while a 47-year-old Broadstone man was taken to hospital with serious injuries.

The entire matter is subject to its own investigation being led by Hampshire Constabulary.

Questions have been raised over a perceived lack of information and advice for stranded drivers.

An AA spokesman said: “I think perhaps if the commissioner is looking in to the whole incident then that is one aspect that needs to be looked at.”

Mr Hayes’s office said that he’s always been clear that he wants talks with relevant agencies to prevent a repeat scenario and that communications systems “need to be improved”.

Responding to claims of an angry backlash from police officers following his initial comments he said he “hasn’t had a change of response”.

Efforts were made to update radio stations and social networking sites during the crisis he said – adding that these methods were not foolproof.

His office added: “The PCC is not attributing blame ahead of a proper review of the events but, in his role as commissioner, he is able to facilitate a cross-agency discussion and put pressure on all parties to ensure similar events do not happen again.

“We are all keen to ensure that lessons are learned from these incidents but we must remember that a life has tragically been lost as a result of this incident and we need to allow for a full investigation before jumping to conclusions and blame. All agencies are keen to prioritise public safety by working through better ways of working together.”

Comments (12)

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8:18am Sun 2 Feb 14

Huey says...

No need for horses to be kept either as pets or near roads. What use do they really serve? This is the 21st century.
No need for horses to be kept either as pets or near roads. What use do they really serve? This is the 21st century. Huey

8:56am Sun 2 Feb 14

Hampshire Corn and Bread says...

I think the problem maybe that when an incident occurs, we always hear from the police that blocking roads/evacuating areas etc is because'' the safety of the public is our prime consideration''.

When it comes to that extra mile after flexing ones muscles and letting the public know who's in charge it stops being a prime consideration.
I think the problem maybe that when an incident occurs, we always hear from the police that blocking roads/evacuating areas etc is because'' the safety of the public is our prime consideration''. When it comes to that extra mile after flexing ones muscles and letting the public know who's in charge it stops being a prime consideration. Hampshire Corn and Bread

9:13am Sun 2 Feb 14

Woolston woman Jane says...

Daily Echo does it again. Hey, let's criticise the police without making any constructive suggestions of our own!
Also, learn how to spell, for God's sake. Choas? In a headline? Risible.
Daily Echo does it again. Hey, let's criticise the police without making any constructive suggestions of our own! Also, learn how to spell, for God's sake. Choas? In a headline? Risible. Woolston woman Jane

9:15am Sun 2 Feb 14

good-gosh says...

Lesson 1 for a boss – support your team at all times.
Lesson 1 for a boss – support your team at all times. good-gosh

11:10am Sun 2 Feb 14

andreww says...

I reckon he has had a telling off from above.

The problem does not lie with the police, they have to respond to whatever they get, it is the fault of the Highways Agency and even the Government failing to provide an adequate road in the first place.
I reckon he has had a telling off from above. The problem does not lie with the police, they have to respond to whatever they get, it is the fault of the Highways Agency and even the Government failing to provide an adequate road in the first place. andreww

12:10pm Sun 2 Feb 14

Paramjit Bahia says...

Police and Crime Commissioner Mr. Hayes should learn to study all the facts before opening his populist mouth.

Following a tragic accident with reduced number of police officers (Thanks to government policy) Hampshire Constabulary had to deal with exceptional situation.

They had no choice but to close the road for collecting detailed evidence, as required by law. So had to close the road.

There are not many side roads to divert the traffic, and no overhead electronic information facilities like on motorways to display the info to drivers.

How could limited number of officers while busy dealing with accident could possibly go around to all the cars stuck in the traffic jam to tell every driver what was going on?

Unfortunately the PCC decided to sound good to frustrated crowd, so opted for easy option; blame the police rather than providing Chief Constable with sufficient officers and other back up resources, which is his own responsibility. Or demanding more investment in roads from his buddies in London.
Police and Crime Commissioner Mr. Hayes should learn to study all the facts before opening his populist mouth. Following a tragic accident with reduced number of police officers (Thanks to government policy) Hampshire Constabulary had to deal with exceptional situation. They had no choice but to close the road for collecting detailed evidence, as required by law. So had to close the road. There are not many side roads to divert the traffic, and no overhead electronic information facilities like on motorways to display the info to drivers. How could limited number of officers while busy dealing with accident could possibly go around to all the cars stuck in the traffic jam to tell every driver what was going on? Unfortunately the PCC decided to sound good to frustrated crowd, so opted for easy option; blame the police rather than providing Chief Constable with sufficient officers and other back up resources, which is his own responsibility. Or demanding more investment in roads from his buddies in London. Paramjit Bahia

5:01pm Sun 2 Feb 14

bobbyboy says...

Its time to reintroduce turn points between the barriers at set distatnces say 50mtrs apart on long streaches of all roads that do not have local natural turn offs.Blame cultures proves nothing action does.
Its time to reintroduce turn points between the barriers at set distatnces say 50mtrs apart on long streaches of all roads that do not have local natural turn offs.Blame cultures proves nothing action does. bobbyboy

5:33pm Sun 2 Feb 14

Inform Al says...

Huey wrote:
No need for horses to be kept either as pets or near roads. What use do they really serve? This is the 21st century.
They taste like beef
[quote][p][bold]Huey[/bold] wrote: No need for horses to be kept either as pets or near roads. What use do they really serve? This is the 21st century.[/p][/quote]They taste like beef Inform Al

7:34pm Sun 2 Feb 14

*ay*carumba* says...

There were plenty of announcements on local radio stations as to what was happening, this should have informed the people stuck in the jam. Are the police expected to spend their time informing the public rather than sorting out the problem causing a further delay.

Also, do people not consider that some sort of emergency/breakdown/
incident may happen when travelling? Where is the harm in taking some bottled water or a flask and some snacks and maybe a book to beat the boredom if stuck in stationery traffic. More often than not it won't be needed but very much appreciated if it is needed.
There were plenty of announcements on local radio stations as to what was happening, this should have informed the people stuck in the jam. Are the police expected to spend their time informing the public rather than sorting out the problem causing a further delay. Also, do people not consider that some sort of emergency/breakdown/ incident may happen when travelling? Where is the harm in taking some bottled water or a flask and some snacks and maybe a book to beat the boredom if stuck in stationery traffic. More often than not it won't be needed but very much appreciated if it is needed. *ay*carumba*

4:25am Mon 3 Feb 14

huckit P says...

Many people have questioned why stationary traffic wasn' simply turned aorund and sent back along the carriageway they had travelled on? As no other traffic entering the road it would have been relatively safe. This could have been achieved with the assitance of the Highways Agency and would have redced the time anyone spent in the queue.
On the subjct of crossing points - why not install points with locked gates so that during a time of need either the Highways Agency or Police unlock the gates and supervise traffic through and onto the other carriageway? It just needs a little thought and some forward planning.
Many people have questioned why stationary traffic wasn' simply turned aorund and sent back along the carriageway they had travelled on? As no other traffic entering the road it would have been relatively safe. This could have been achieved with the assitance of the Highways Agency and would have redced the time anyone spent in the queue. On the subjct of crossing points - why not install points with locked gates so that during a time of need either the Highways Agency or Police unlock the gates and supervise traffic through and onto the other carriageway? It just needs a little thought and some forward planning. huckit P

8:55am Mon 3 Feb 14

Gozza1 says...

I don't often agree with Paramjit Bahia, but he's got this one exactly right. The Police dealing with this incident had more important things to worry about than whether people got home in time for Eastenders.
I don't often agree with Paramjit Bahia, but he's got this one exactly right. The Police dealing with this incident had more important things to worry about than whether people got home in time for Eastenders. Gozza1

2:21pm Mon 3 Feb 14

Yoda Master says...

huckit P wrote:
Many people have questioned why stationary traffic wasn' simply turned aorund and sent back along the carriageway they had travelled on? As no other traffic entering the road it would have been relatively safe. This could have been achieved with the assitance of the Highways Agency and would have redced the time anyone spent in the queue. On the subjct of crossing points - why not install points with locked gates so that during a time of need either the Highways Agency or Police unlock the gates and supervise traffic through and onto the other carriageway? It just needs a little thought and some forward planning.
Although this seems a good idea, there are a few issues:
1 - You would have to have lots of keys for all padlocks along the route, if there was 1 master key for all these are expensive and would have to be issues to every officer on the force to whoever was attending site.

2 - If gates were opened you would have to turn traffic around onto lane 2 of a duel carriageway or lane 3 on a motorway, thats very dangerous without suffienct lanes closures on the opposing carriageway. If you closed these lanes then traffic on the opposite direction would become slkow moving due to lane closures, plus its v expensive and requires correct TM plans

3 - What would happen if the locks on the gates were stolen by vandals, gates could open into lanes on their own, hitting vehicles

Im not slating the idea, just noting that its not a realistic one
[quote][p][bold]huckit P[/bold] wrote: Many people have questioned why stationary traffic wasn' simply turned aorund and sent back along the carriageway they had travelled on? As no other traffic entering the road it would have been relatively safe. This could have been achieved with the assitance of the Highways Agency and would have redced the time anyone spent in the queue. On the subjct of crossing points - why not install points with locked gates so that during a time of need either the Highways Agency or Police unlock the gates and supervise traffic through and onto the other carriageway? It just needs a little thought and some forward planning.[/p][/quote]Although this seems a good idea, there are a few issues: 1 - You would have to have lots of keys for all padlocks along the route, if there was 1 master key for all these are expensive and would have to be issues to every officer on the force to whoever was attending site. 2 - If gates were opened you would have to turn traffic around onto lane 2 of a duel carriageway or lane 3 on a motorway, thats very dangerous without suffienct lanes closures on the opposing carriageway. If you closed these lanes then traffic on the opposite direction would become slkow moving due to lane closures, plus its v expensive and requires correct TM plans 3 - What would happen if the locks on the gates were stolen by vandals, gates could open into lanes on their own, hitting vehicles Im not slating the idea, just noting that its not a realistic one Yoda Master

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