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Roads: M5

Volume 712: debated on Monday 5 October 2009


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will investigate the necessity of closing the northbound carriageway of the M5 for six hours on 28 August in response to a threat from a man to jump from the Avonmouth Bridge. [HL5450]

The decision to close a motorway is an operational matter for the police. In reaching such a decision they are fully aware of the disruption and inconvenience such a closure might cause. They must however give due priority to ensuring the safety of individuals involved in an incident, of the public at large, of emergency service workers attending an incident and of all other road users.

I understand that on this occasion the road was closed while police officers talked to a vulnerable person on the bridge, who subsequently fell and was killed. Apart from the risk to his own well-being and that of those attempting to help him, his behaviour was distracting motorists from paying due attention to driving safely. I understand that Avon and Somerset Constabulary have informed their Professional Standards Department and the incident has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.