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Relatives demand answers from council

PUBLISHED: 19:00 23 May 2002 | UPDATED: 11:58 03 March 2010

RELATIVES of an elderly couple who died in an horrific smash on the busy A12 today demanded to know why the road's "killer gap" is still not closed.

Walter Bishopp gave his backing to The Evening Star's campaign to have the right-turn opening in the central reservation at Brightwell shut and said council chiefs appeared to be "dragging their heels".

By RICHARD CORNWELL

and JANE HUNT

richard.cornwell@eveningstar.co.uk

jane.hunt@eveningstar.co.uk

A RELATIVE of an elderly couple who died in an horrific smash on the busy A12 today demanded to know why the road's "killer gap" is still not closed.

Walter Bishopp gave his backing to the Evening Star's campaign to have the right-turn opening in the central reservation at Brightwell shut and said council chiefs appeared to be "dragging their heels".

His comments came just hours after the Star highlighted Suffolk County Council's slowness in closing the gap on the dual carriageway and Keith Wright, the lorry driver involved in the fatal crash, won his appeal against a conviction for careless driving.

Edward Bishopp, 74, and his wife Pamela, 73, from Melton, both died in the accident in December 2000 when their car collided with Mr Wright's 40ft lorry carrying coal.

Walter Bishopp, a cousin of the couple, said today: "That is obviously a very dangerous situation on a busy road with fast-moving traffic and I cannot understand why it has not been dealt with.

"The authorities said the gap would be closed and yet it hasn't been. If they closed it people would just have to go up to the roundabout and come back down the other carriageway. That could happen now.

"Has someone in the area got some political clout to keep it open? I think they are just dragging their heels."

Lorry driver Mr Wright, of Church Lane, Playford, denied careless driving when he appeared before Magistrates in November but was found guilty. He was fined £1,000, ordered to pay £400 costs and had his licence endorsed with nine penalty points.

Yesterday Judge John Devaux sitting with two Magistrates at Ipswich Crown Court allowed his appeal against the conviction.

Judge Devaux said it was highly probable that Mr Bishopp had failed to see Mr Wright's vehicle. "We are unable to conclude that the appellant was at fault," he said.

After the hearing Mr Wright said he was pleased with the outcome but was sorry the accident had happened.

"I knew from when I was first convicted in the magistrates' court that it wasn't a fair conviction. I am sorry the Bishopps lost their lives but the Judge has cleared me completely on my driving. I wasn't at fault whatsoever," he said.

Rod Sore, the council's team leader for safety and signals, said: "The closure of the gap at Brightwell on the A12 is in our programme of work for this year.

"We are currently looking at the implications over rights of access and are still in the process of consulting with local people."


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