Wakefield Council leader says 'lessons need to be learnt' after travel disruption

Coun Peter Box
Coun Peter Box

Wakefield Council leader Peter Box has said that lessons need to be learnt after a day of traffic mayhem in the district.

Coun Box, who is also the chairman of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, has called for a meeting with the Highways Agency and Combined Authority to review the response to yesterday's traffic disruption.

The day of chaos began during the morning rush hour when a lorry caught fire between Junction 29 at M1 Lofthouse and Junction 30 at Rothwell.

There were long tailbacks as both carriageways were shut to deal with the blaze, which happened just after 6.30am.

The westbound carriageway was opened later in the day, but the eastbound side remained closed well into the evening as work was carried out to repair the road.

Drivers faced further delays and long tail-backs in and out of the city during the afternoon after a 38-year-old woman was knocked down on Doncaster Road at around 1.10pm. The road was closed in both directions, between Sugar Lane and Denmark Street junction until 5.30pm.

A collision between a double decker bus and a lorry caused more tail-backs later in the afternoon. The vehicles collided near Marsh Way roundabout at 3.30pm.

Coun Box expressed concern at the disruption to West Yorkshire’s road network and the local economy.

He said: “Unfortunately incidents like these are beyond our control, but we need to make sure that we learn lessons from incidents such as these so we can act quickly and efficiently in any future incidents.

“The impact that closing a major motorway like the M62 is huge and combined with another incident on a major road resulted in gridlock in the city centre and surrounding areas.

“The closures were unavoidable due to the severe nature of the incidents, but we need to make sure that it is an absolute priority of the Highways Agency to reopen roads far quicker.

“This disruption had a massive impact on commuters in West Yorkshire and also on our local businesses that rely on this busy Christmas shopping period. Having our town and city centres gridlocked means that many independent traders would have seen huge losses.”

Coun Box has called the meeting to look at what can be done to minimise the disruption in any future incidents.

He said: “We will be seeking assurances from the Highways Agency that lessons have been learnt from this incident and that operational responses are put in place as soon as possible.”