THE mother of a 17-year-old boy killed in a car accident near Bidford-on-Avon has been asked to stop placing flowers at the crash site.
Shockingly, a police officer told Teresa Bateman there was a problem with her floral tributes to her son, Charles, moments before she walked into the inquest into his death last Friday.
Every week since Charles died in December last year, the 49-year-old mother-of-five has gone to the crossroads where the Bidford to Honeybourne road intersects Welford Road and Cleeve Road to lay flowers in memory of her eldest son.
"I was extremely upset,” said Mrs Bateman. “He raised it just as I was about to go into the inquest about my dead son. It wasn’t appropriate.”
Warwickshire County Council told the police that Mrs Bateman needed to stop the floral tributes because they were “proving a distraction to motorists.” The council had even received some complaints about them.
However, yesterday, (Wednesday) a council spokesperson said: “We sympathise with the family and we will try to work with them to come up with a suitable permanent memorial.”
At the inquest, Mrs Bateman and her husband Terry, 64, were disappointed that the coroner, Louise Hunt made, no recommendations to change the crossroads.
Yesterday, they launched a petition to get the speed limit in the area reduced from 60mph to 40mph and to improve signage at the junction because, “we do not wish for another family to experience the grief that we are enduring.” It racked up 100 signatures in a couple of hours.
Mr Bateman said: “A killer road is going to stay a killer road, and a killer crossroads is going to stay a killer crossroads. I think that would be a shame because what effectively has happened is Charles has lost his life for absolutely no reason.”
However, the council confirmed yesterday that the speed limit on the Honeybourne road would be reduced to 50mph in early 2014 and that signage would be improved at the junction.
Charles died two days before Christmas Day last year when the Ford Fiesta he was driving cut across the Honeybourne road and hit a 4x4 Freelander, driven by local resident Sam Frost.
He did not know the route, having just driven a friend home, and the road was flooded, obscuring the give way markings.
The coroner said his death was down to his inexperience as a driver—Charles had only passed his test five months previously—as well as the adverse weather conditions, and the standing water on the road.
Charles’ parents and other locals say signage at the crossroads is inadequate.
Bidford resident, Andrew Wilkes, used to be a firefighter in the village and has been called out to crashes there. “There has been numerous accidents on that crossroads,” he said. “It is very dangerous and the visibility is not brilliant. It is just the horrendous speed that they travel down there.”
In 2009, there was a sign on the Honeybourne road alerting you to the upcoming crossroads but it was knocked down in an accident and never put back up.
Residents down the road in Bickmarsh have been campaigning for over ten years to get the speed limit on the Honeybourne road reduced because of the number of accidents.
According to the council, as well as Charles’s fatal crash, there has been one serious injury accident and five minor injury accidents at the crossroads in the past ten years, but Mrs Bateman says that doesn’t tell the full story.
“All of the near misses and all of the little knocks and bumps are not recorded,” she said. “Once my father had gone to the site to replace the flowers and while he was there another crash happened.”
Local knowledge suggests the Honeybourne to Bidford road is historically, more dangerous than that, and around ten years ago residents in Bickmarsh produced an accident map that claimed there had been four fatal accidents near the crossroads.
Although pleased the council were finally waking up to the issues there, Mrs Bateman still believes the speed limit should be reduced further to 40mph and is going ahead with her petition.
To sign it visit https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/warwickshire-county-council-to-make-changes-to-the-deadly-crossroads-at-the-welford-cleeve-and-honeybourne-road-junction-bidford-on-avon-warwickshire
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