Council boss claims crash response was ‘ not acceptable’

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Wakefield Council leader Coun Peter Box has called for an urgent meeting with highways bosses following a multi-vehicle crash on the M62.

The motorway was closed in both directions following the incident involving two HGVs, a van and a car, which happened at around 5.20am on Tuesday.

The accident led to traffic chaos across the Five Towns with traffic queuing through Pontefract, Castleford, Methley and Featherstone as commuters looked for alternative routes.

Two lanes had opened westbound between junction 32 at Pontefract and 31 for Castleford by lunchtime on Tuesday but all lanes remained closed eastbound between junction 30 at Rothwell and junction 31 at Castleford until around 3.15pm, while vehicles were recovered and a diesel spill cleared.

Police said no-one was seriously hurt in the smash but the eastbound carriageway slip road at junction 31 remained closed for almost 11 hours.

Coun Box said: “It’s incredible that a major motorway like the M62 can still be partially closed almost 11 hours after a non-fatal incident.

“I acknowledge that the closure this morning was unavoidable but surely it must be an absolute priority for the Highways Agency to clear the motorway far quicker than this.

“This type of disruption not only has massive impact on commuters but also on local businesses due to the knock on effect on the local road network.

“The level of service offered by the Highways Agency on Tuesday was simply not acceptable. I will be seeking assurance from the Highways Agency that lessons have been learnt from this incident and that better communications and operational responses are put in place as soon as possible.”

A spokesman for the Highways Agency said: “Highways Agency traffic officers and contractors worked tirelessly since the early hours of Tuesday morning to help re-open the motorway and did as much as possible - including freeing drivers stuck behind the incident - before the police finished their vital investigation into the causes of this serious incident at around 1pm when we were able to fully get onto the incident scene.

“The Highways Agency and emergency services are all signed up to the government’s CLEAR initiative with the aim of clearing these kinds of incidents as quickly as possible and we do routinely review our respective organisation’s performance at such incidents. With this in mind we welcome any constructive input from Wakefield Council.”