Res­i­dents an­gry over road clo­sure for funeral...

South Wales Echo - - News - WILL HAY­WARD Re­porter will.hay­ward@waleson­line.co.uk

PEO­PLE in Cardiff have re­acted fu­ri­ously over how the po­lice and coun­cil han­dled the clos­ing of a busy road due to a funeral for a mem­ber of the trav­eller com­mu­nity.

The Chief Con­sta­ble of South Wales Po­lice has said that of­fi­cers faced more than 50 ve­hi­cles ob­struct­ing Rover Way and that they put pub­lic safety first.

He has said that the force will look for lessons and re­view ev­i­dence to con­sider whether “en­force­ment” should have been used.

But it comes too late for busi­nesses that say they lost thou­sands of pounds due to the clo­sure of Rover Way, one of the main roads into the Welsh cap­i­tal, which was closed more than 18 hours ahead of Thurs­day morn­ing’s funeral for Wes­ley Sykes.

Driv­ers also saw 15-minute jour­neys turn into frus­trat­ing trips of more than two hours.

One man, who has run a lo­cal haulage busi­ness for 25 years, said he was still cal­cu­lat­ing the losses.

“It runs into the thou­sands,” said the busi­ness owner who did not wish to be named.

“We are still in the process of cal­cu­lat­ing it.

“I re­alised the road was closed last night be­cause I had been out with my wife vis­it­ing my daugh­ter in Caer­philly. On the way back, at about 9.30pm, I saw there were signs say­ing that Rover Way was closed.

“I just thought it was a nor­mal in­ci­dent and noth­ing out of the or­di­nary.”

He says that his busi­ness re­lies on de­liv­er­ies hit­ting spe­cific time slots else they re­ceive a fi­nan­cial penalty.

“You have to hit time slots. A lot of com­pa­nies to­day don’t have ware­house space anymore.

“The com­put­ers are de­signed to order au­to­mat­i­cally. Those de­liv­er­ies have to be on time so the com­pany can keep go­ing.

“Nor­mally when there are clo­sures like this it is be­cause there has been a nasty ac­ci­dent.

“You don’t close a ma­jor road into Cardiff be­cause of this. It is ridicu­lous, I am baf­fled. If I was to park there I would face a fine or be towed.

“Other busi­nesses in Lamby Way have had the same prob­lem.”

“What is wrong with this city’s coun­cil and po­lice force al­low­ing this to hap­pen? If any other cit­i­zen parked or blocked a ma­jor road than there would be con­se­quences, such as a fine or towed away – to­tally un­ac­cept­able.

“This is cost­ing busi­nesses a lot of money and fum­ing doesn’t start to cover it.”

Other peo­ple have used so­cial me­dia to ex­press their dis­plea­sure.

Kate Bell said: “Although I feel for any­one dying in tragic cir­cum­stances and their fam­ily, it is out­ra­geous that the po­lice and coun­cil have al­lowed this to hap­pen pre­sum­ably through fear of what would hap­pen if they in­ter­vened.

“Then when you com­plain about a group be­cause of their cul­ture you need to be cau­tious not to look like you are be­ing prej­u­dice.

“It isn’t about be­ing in­tol­er­ant of cul­tures, it is be­ing in­tol­er­ant un­fair rules from the coun­cil and po­lice.

“Treat us all equally re­gard­less of our cul­tural back­ground is what peo­ple want.”

Michael Wood­ing­ton, of Tre­morfa, said: “Can we have an as­sur­ance that this will never hap­pen again? This could have cost lives as emer­gency ser­vices would have strug­gled to reach peo­ple where I live.

“Why should so many peo­ple be in­con­ve­nienced when this would never be al­lowed for most of us? Was there no other op­tion that could have en­sured the funeral went ahead smoothly and caused no dis­rup­tion to the rest of us?

“We need more than the state­ment of­fered.”

Lyn Davies agreed say­ing: “Let’s be hon­est, both the po­lice and coun­cil have some ex­plain­ing to do.

“Why could it not have been open to one way traf­fic to let peo­ple out of the city? What if some­one had died in Splott be­cause an am­bu­lance could not get through the grid lock that was caused. Sorry South Wales Po­lice, not good enough.”

One Cardiff res­i­dent, who did not want to be named, asked why a full clo­sure was nec­es­sary.

She said: “Rather than clos­ing the road in both di­rec­tions, caus­ing pan­de­mo­nium, why did they not use their re­sources to in­struct and di­rect the trav­ellers to a park and ride car park on the out­skirts of the city and tell them they would need to ar­range for coaches to fol­low the funeral cortege?”

As­sis­tant Chief Con­sta­ble Jeremy Vaughan said:“We were aware that a funeral was tak­ing place to­day, but we were not in­formed of its scale and the num­ber of ve­hi­cles in­volved did not be­come ap­par­ent un­til yes­ter­day af­ter­noon, when an in­creas­ing num­ber ar­rived at Rover Way. Even­tu­ally, this num­ber to­talled 50.

“We know that the re­sult of this was sig­nif­i­cant traf­fic prob­lems on the road yes­ter­day evening. A de­ci­sion was sub­se­quently taken to close the road...

“This de­ci­sion was taken with pub­lic safety be­ing paramount. Given the na­ture of the in­ci­dent, it was prov­ing ex­tremely dif­fi­cult to iden­tify the own­ers of the ve­hi­cles in­volved, and it would have been im­prac­ti­ca­ble for of­fi­cers to have at­tempted to re­move them.

“Be­cause our pri­mary con­cern is keep­ing users of the road safe, a road clo­sure was deemed to be nec­es­sary to min­imise any risks from hav­ing ve­hi­cles con­tinue to travel along a blocked road...

“Clearly, how­ever, this had a ma­jor knock-on ef­fect for many road users in Cardiff and a post-in­ci­dent de­brief will be carried out along­side part­ner agen­cies, to in­clude a re­view of what ac­tion may be ap­pro­pri­ate in fu­ture.

“Two ve­hi­cles have been re­cov­ered in re­la­tion to in­sur­ance and ob­struc­tion is­sues.”

On Twit­ter, Chief Con­sta­ble for South Wales Po­lice Matt Jukes said: “[We] will look for lessons and re­view ev­i­dence to con­sider en­force­ment.”

SAF­FRON JENK­INS

Rover Way was closed be­cause of a funeral

SAF­FRON JENK­INS

Traf­fic queue­ing at the New­port Road junc­tion of Broad­way in Cardiff

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