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Volume 458: debated on Thursday 29 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what procedures are in place to manage traffic on the A2 Bangor to Belfast road following accidents on that road; what assessment he has made as to whether these procedures were followed following the accident there on 16 March; and if he will make a statement. (129649)

During the period 1 January 2004 to 31 December 2006 there have been 119 road traffic collisions on the A2 Belfast to Bangor road, (between the junctions of Knocknagoney road and Abbey street/Brunswick road, Bangor). The vast majority of these collisions have been dealt with causing minimum disruption to the motoring public.

The nature of this route is such that there is almost constant congestion during rush hour; unfortunately any collision or road closure inevitably results in that congestion becoming extreme. The options available to relieve this route are limited and

incapable of coping efficiently with diversions.

A serious road traffic collision occurred on the A2 Bangor to Belfast road at approximately 7.45 am on 16 March 2007.

The collision, which was close to the Culloden Hotel, involved four vehicles and blocked both Belfast bound and Bangor bound traffic lanes. In this regard it was necessary to implement a closure of the road in both directions.

All available police resources were tasked to the area to deal with the accident investigation, assist with the casualties and manage the necessary diversions to keep traffic disruption to a minimum.

In addition the Northern Ireland fire and rescue service and the Northern Ireland ambulance service attended the scene.

Debris and a petrol spillage resulted on the road that required the attendance of DRD Roads Service before the route could be safely re-opened.

Police reopened the road on a phased basis as soon as was practically possible, with one Bangor bound traffic lane being reopened initially, followed by the second Bangor bound traffic lane, followed by both Belfast bound traffic lanes.

Full use was made of local media to advise motorists of the incident and text alerts were circulated to members of a local community information network scheme.

Police in North Down are reviewing this incident and a further serious road traffic collision, which occurred in the same vicinity to ascertain if there are any learning points.

The procedure to deal with any road traffic collision will be dependent on the prevailing circumstances and the PSNI made every effort to deal with the incident on 16 March 2007 in a professional, effective and efficient manner and return the area to normality as quickly as possible.

Any disruption to traffic flow and inconvenience to motorists is regrettable; however the primary policing objectives of the protection of life and property must be the paramount and overriding considerations in response to this type of incident.