Hundreds rally in honour of April

PUBLISHED: 10:00 16 June 2015

Locking people and supporters walking along the A371 to campaign for safer road speeds in honour of young road accident victim April Reeves.

Locking people and supporters walking along the A371 to campaign for safer road speeds in honour of young road accident victim April Reeves.

Archant

A ‘HUGE community turnout’ saw hundreds march alongside a busy Weston road to remember seven-year-old April Reeves, who was killed in a ‘terrible accident’ two weeks ago.

Campaigners met on Wednesday to walk the A371 in Locking in the hope of securing a lower speed limit and new safety measures.

Their effort was sparked by the death of April Reeves, who died after being involved in a collision with a car while cycling alongside the A371 with her mother and brother on May 28.

As well as those joining the walk, hundreds of other people across Weston wore pink to work and school in memory of April.

The A371 is a 60mph road and is the main route linking Weston with Locking, the new Parklands development, Banwell and villages such as Winscombe and Sandford.

Several petitions have been set up calling for traffic lights, a roundabout or a reduced speed limit on the Locking Parklands entrance.

The march was held to support April’s family and highlight the need for road safety improvements, with campaigners speaking to the Mercury about their hopes for swift action.

Tracey Williams said: “It is just awful. The only way we can get across the road is to go across the bridge, but it is a primary school, we all have pushchairs and buggies, and everything we need is on the other side of the road.”

Debbie Smith said: “I’m sad. I’m really missing her. And I really think they need to sort this road, it is so dangerous.”

Sasha Peart said: “It is a tragedy which never should have happened. Things should have been put in place beforehand, the road is so dangerous.

“It is so, so sad it has taken the death of a seven-year-old child for any changes to occur.”

For others, the walk was simply a way of remembering.

Nicky Cockle said: “I am here 
in support of a family who lost their daughter in a terrible accident.”

Locking resident and police officer Darren Draper said: “When the community turns out like this it just goes to show how much the people care. You can see by the response today.”

Locking Primary School, which April attended, held a memorial event where children could take in coins to make into a flower.

The money will be donated to the Support The Reeves Family campaign via FundRazr, created by a family friend.

The tragic incident was also discussed at the Locking Parish Council meeting on Thursday.

A statement from the parish council says: “The parish council wish to send their condolences to the family of April Reeves.

“April was a member of our community and we are all shocked following this terrible accident and loss of a young 
life.”

The authority said it has been lobbying for safety improvements for years.

There is no pedestrian crossing on the road and only one footbridge. Parents say it is unsuitable for pushchairs as the steps are too steep.

Police are still investigating the incident but the driver of the car involved has not been arrested. The exact circumstances of the collision not yet known.

Council vows action to improve safety

SWIFT action to tackle safety concerns on the A371 has been promised by North Somerset Council in the wake of April Reeves’ death.

New designs have already been commissioned to widen the cycle path between Locking Parklands and Elm Tree Road.

Deputy council leader Elfan Ap Rees, whose portfolio includes highways, said he is ‘keen’ to pursue a new crossing if funding can be found.

A council spokesman said: “Our sympathies are with the family at what must be a heart-breaking time for them.

“While it is not appropriate for us to make comment on the circumstances until we have the official police report, there are already improvements under way because of the new residential and employment development taking place at Locking Parklands.

“The council has already been in discussions with the local school and moved flashing warning lights nearer to the current crossing point on the A371.

“It has also just approved an extension to the school car park to encourage parents not to drop off children on the main road.”

Cllr Ap Rees said: “We are now working on the design of the widened cycle path from Locking Parklands down to the Elm Tree Road junction and funding for this has been identified from the Local Sustainable Transport Fund.

“Design work has also begun on the north-south link across the site which will require a traffic light junction on the A371 and offer an opportunity for both a speed limit and a pedestrian crossing.

“However I am still keen to pursue a ramped-bridge crossing as a safer option if I can identify a funding source.”

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