Police Commissioner announces public hearing into M6 closure chaos
A 24-hour delay in re-opening the M6 following a fatal crash is to be the subject of a public hearing at which the police, fire service, Highways Agency and councils will answer questions about why the motorway was closed for so long.
The inquiry, thought to be the first of its kind, is being organised by West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson and will be held at Birmingham Council House on March 18.
Emergency services will be under pressure to respond to widespread criticism from the public and businesses about the lengthy closure of one of the country’s busiest motorways to allow resurfacing and other emergency repairs to take place.
Motorists queued for more than nine hours following the crash between junctions five and six in the early hours of the morning on February 4. The motorway was not fully re-opened for 24 hours.
Mr Jamieson said he wanted to “make sure that lessons are learnt and co-ordination is as strong as it can be in the future”.
After the meeting the PCC will make recommendations on how the motorway can be re-opened as quickly, but safely as possible in future through better co-ordination and joint working.
Mr Jamieson wants people and businesses to submit evidence on how they were affected by the crash and the effect it had on them. Evidence can be submitted here.
Mr Jamieson said:
Any death on our roads is a tragic loss of life and our sympathies go out to the family.
In addition to which the huge tailbacks on the transport network which will have cost the regional economy millions of pounds.
Whole day closures have a huge impact on the economy, therefore we need to make sure that organisations are held to account to make sure they are doing all they can to open the motorway as quickly and safely as possible.
I will be publicly scrutinising the way in which all the agencies worked together to establish the level of multi-agency working that took place around managing traffic and re-opening the motorway in the aftermath of the incident.
I hope this hearing will act as a stimulus for a more structured working relationship between the police, Highways England and local authorities if a similar incident occurs in the future.
I will be using my powers as PCC to ensure that these matters are heard in public and properly scrutinised. I have previously called on the Secretary of State for Transport to take hold of this issue to make sure that we are doing all we can to ensure that co-ordination and joint working between different agencies is as strong as possible.
I want to hear from people and businesses about the effect that it had on them to get a full picture of the impact of the delays ahead of the hearing in public. I would urge anyone who was stuck in the delays to let me know their experiences so we can get a full picture of what happened and the impact upon the region.
I have made supporting the regional economy one of my top priorities in my police and crime plan. These delays and lengthy closures have a huge impact on jobs and growth. That is why I am so keen that the agencies involved learn the right lessons going forward.
The hearing in public will take place at 10 am to 1 pm, in Committee Room 2, Birmingham City House on Friday 18th March. The hearing will be webcast here.
The hearing will deal solely with the aftermath of the incident and the co-ordination between agencies, not the crash itself. The PCC will chair the hearing and the questioning will be supported by his Strategic Policing and Crime Board.
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