West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson is holding a follow-up hearing into motorway delays to see how much progress has been made against recommendations he made earlier this year.
The hearing will be held on December 20. It will also be webcast live.
The original hearing on March 18th followed the 24-hour closure of the M6 following a fatal crash on February 4th.
In response to widespread public concern, David Jamieson called an initial hearing to examine the multi-agency response after the crash. The hearing was not asked to look into the circumstances of the incident, which tragically led to the loss of a life, nor to apportion blame, but to examine:
- What action could have been taken by all relevant authorities to mitigate the delays more effectively?
- The level of multi-agency working and what steps need to be taken to improve this
The follow-up hearing will be to review the progress made since March.
West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner David Jamieson said: “Delays like we saw on February 4th following a fatal crash on the M6 cost the economy in the West Midlands millions of pounds, with people and goods not able to get to where they were needed. Ultimately those delays cost money, jobs and inconvenienced people. They also potentially impact on public safety. That is why I called a public hearing and for the first time made Highways England locally answer in public, along with the police and councils.
“I am now holding a follow-up hearing to ensure that progress is made on the recommendations I published in March.
“The recommendations made previously will become even more important with HS2 construction starting soon and the associated building projects that will criss-cross the motorway network.
“The people of the West Midlands need a motorway system that is safe, efficient and reliable – this hearing aims to help achieve that goal.
“I took the findings from the first public hearing to the government and will raise the findings from this meeting with ministers again. It is only right that when incidents happen they are dealt with as quickly as possible so that the motorway network can get up and running again.”
The 11 recommendations following the initial public hearing were:
- West Midlands Police / CMPG are recommended to review protocols for informing Highways England of potential large diesel and petrol spillages
- West Midlands Police / CMPG and Highways England are recommended to review Senior Investigating Officer protocols for Highways England to access incident sites to allow assessment of the condition of the carriageway and likely repairs, before the end of the investigative phase
- West Midlands Police / CMPG, Highways England and local authorities are recommended to agree a programme of exercises to plan for unplanned motorway closures, with particular emphasis on understanding the consequences of four-lane running and the likely scale of roadworks associated with HS2 construction, and with the specific intention of developing a major incident response plan for the Birmingham Box
- West Midlands Police / CMPG, Highways England and local authorities are recommended to review their protocols for declaring a major incident
- West Midlands Police / CMPG, Highways England and local authorities are recommended to consider the creation of a graded incident scale that allows for mobilisation of responses by the respective agencies that are proportionate to the scale of an incident on the motorway
- Highways England and local authorities are recommended to review their protocols for activating local authority out-of-hours traffic management capabilities in the aftermath of significant incidents
- Highways England are recommended to develop and implement collaboration agreements with local authorities for the shared response to significant incidents on the motorway network
- Highways England, West Midlands Combined Authority and the Department for Transport are recommended to renegotiate the criteria for activation of Operation Freeway to:
- Lower the thresholds for activation of Operation Freeway
- Devolve decision-making to the West Midlands Metro Mayor in consultation with Highways England, West Midlands Police and local authorities
- Review how the M6 (Toll) might be more effectively integrated into the response to significant incidents on the motorway network
- Highways England is recommended to review its operational command arrangements for significant incidents to ensure there is clarity on roles, responsibilities and delegated authorities
- All agencies should immediately examine their response to risks to the welfare of those trapped in vehicles and develop a plan to provide rapid assistance to vulnerable people
- West Midlands Combined Authority is recommended to convene within six months a follow up event for West Midlands Police / CMPG, Highways England and local authorities to consider progress against these recommendations