Leamington taxi boss fears another death due street lights switch-off
A TEENAGER lost his life on a road near Leamington because there were no street lights illuminated, it has been claimed.
The claim comes from the colleagues of the taxi driver who was involved in the collision that resulted in the death of 18-year-old Archie Wellbelove. The Warwick University student lost his life after being struck by a taxi on Kenilworth Road between the Northumberland Road junction and Old Milverton Lane island at around 3.50am on Friday December 7.
The driver is not facing any charges over the incident and Dil Ramzan, owner of My Taxis, says the fact that Warwickshire County Council switched off the street lights in the area that week is to blame.
Speaking to the Courier/Weekly News this week, he said: “I have been a taxi driver for nearly 16 years.
“It’s now more difficult than it has ever been to drive at night. You have to concentrate to the extreme, as if you were in very icy conditions or other extreme circumstances.
“The street lights going off has completely changed everybody’s driving styles. We are missing turns and not recognising landmarks that are so familiar to us.”
Describing the taxi driver involved in the fatal accident as a “very humble and noble man and sensible driver”, Mr Ramzan said the man had been driving three passengers at the time of the incident – and all of them said that they had not been able to see anything on the road prior to the collision and that the police, on arrival, had to request the council to switch on the street lights to enable them to deal with the incident.
He said: “Those passengers are now absolutely distraught. Everyone is on edge since the lights went off at night. People fear that they are going to get mugged or sexually assaulted.
“Women are asking for taxis for 200m journeys and we cannot cope with the demand.”
Mr Ramzan said neither his firm nor any other taxi companies that he knows of in the county had been consulted by the council before the decision was taken to switch the lights off at night.
He added: “Although the scheme is set to save £500,000 a year, have the council considered how many claims they will have against them for personal injury - or ultimately death like the unfortunate student? We don’t want this to happen again.”
The county council introduced part-night lighting – where the lights are switched off between midnight and 5.30am - in 80 per cent of Warwick district’s streets on December 1 and plans to roll the change out across the county over the coming months.
Cllr Peter Butlin, countycouncil portfolio holder for highways and transport, said: “It is important to note that we have been working closely with the police, community safety and road safety teams to ensure that the changes are not going to have a negative impact either for road users or in terms of criminal behaviour.”
An exception is to be made for Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, when the lights will be on through the night.
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