Felixstowe: A14 fatal tragedy underlines our fears about cuts to services, say fire campaigners

FELIXSTOWE: As tragedy struck on the A14, it left Felixstowe with the perfect example of the chaos firefighters would face trying to reach the resort in an emergency.

The dual carriageway was closed at Levington after the single-vehicle crash, in which an 83-year-old driver died, to allow police to carry out investigations.

It is the third time it has been blocked this year.

It meant all traffic heading towards Felixstowe was initially forced to leave the A14 at the Seven Hills interchange to go along the old A45 at Levington and then the single-track link road between Levington and Trimley St Martin.

The link road was solid with hundreds of lorries and cars for more than two hours.

Had an emergency occurred in Felixstowe which required a back-up fire crew to be sent from Ipswich – which will be the situation if the county council presses ahead with its proposed fire cover cuts at the resort – the engine would have been seriously delayed.

The fatal accident happened at around 9.45am yesterday when a blue Ford Fiesta left the road and crashed into a ditch.

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Police said the dead man’s name would not be released until next-of-kin had been informed.

Evening Star Save Our Fire Crews campaigner, Ian Heeley, said: “What has happened today is exactly what we predicted.

“It is an enormous tragedy that a person has lost their life, but this accident shows what then happens to the A14 in these circumstances. It was mayhem.

“It is our only road in and out of Felixstowe and the people at the county council – officers and councillors – need to listen to what the public on this peninsula, who know what it’s like to live here, are telling them.

“Would a fire engine have been able to get through? No, not without very serious delay.

“This is what we are warning about and it’s why we need to keep our full-time firefighters here in Felixstowe.”

Fire chiefs are confident that if they axe Felixstowe’s full-time day-time fire crews, one on-call crew, and usually two, would be able to attend every fire.

But if the second was not available then a back-up engine would be sent from Ransomes Europark.

Chief fire officer Andy Fry said: “I think, with blue lights and sirens, we could make steady progress, not as much progress as if the road was clear, but very often we can get through quite high levels of congestion, especially on a dual carriageway where it is wide enough for other vehicles to shift out of the way and allow us down the middle.

“A major accident on the A14 and a major incident in Felixstowe together would be a rare scenario, but it is possible and we are not dealing with an exact science.”

n?Police appealed for anyone who saw the crash to contact the Serious Collisions Investigation Team on 01473 613500.

n?Are you worried about Felixstowe losing its day-time full-time fire cover? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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