Junction of death

COUNCILLORS, highways experts and road safety officials were meeting behind closed doors in Barnstaple s Civic Centre yesterday afternoon (Tuesday) to discuss the future of the notorious Westleigh junction on the A39 just outside Bideford. The meeting was

COUNCILLORS, highways experts and road safety officials were meeting behind closed doors in Barnstaple's Civic Centre yesterday afternoon (Tuesday) to discuss the future of the notorious Westleigh junction on the A39 just outside Bideford.

The meeting was called after the death of 84-year-old John Allison at the blackspot on Wednesday of last week.

He was a front seat passenger in a Vauxhall Vectra, driven by his wife, which was in collision with a Nissan Patrol 4x4 while emerging from the junction to drive towards Bideford.

The driver was airlifted to North Devon District Hospital, but released the same evening.


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Mr Allison died at the scene despite the efforts of paramedics to revive him. The driver of the Nissan Patrol was uninjured.

The accident renewed calls for improvements to be made at the junction, which was officially named a blackspot in 2006 after 16 collisions were recorded there in a three-year period. A motorcyclist died there 15 years ago.

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Ironically, local Independent county councillor Rodney Cann had tabled a question before Wednesday's accident asking the council what measures were being considered to improve safety at the junction.

Mr Cann, who has been campaigning for a roundabout to be constructed for years, said: "First and foremost, I am deeply saddened by the accident and my thoughts go out to the family.

"But I think what has happened strengthens the case for major improvements at that junction. There is no point in looking back at what has happened and saying 'I told you so.' We need to look forward and make sure that this type of accident never happens at that junction again."

Mr Cann, who earlier this year invited members of the new Conservative leadership on the county council to visit the junction site, said he was disappointed by the response to his question.

Councillor Stuart Hughes gave a verbal response on Thursday indicating that there would be a coroner's report and that officers were looking into the situation.

Last night (Tuesday) a Devon County Council spokesman said: "A number of casualty reduction measures already exist at the junction, but as yet no other recommendations have been put before county councillors. Our thoughts are with the family of Mr Allison at this time and we will await the full report from the Police and Coroner. We will continue to review safety at Westleigh Junction, just as we constantly review all locations in Devon where accidents have occurred."

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