A WIDOW whose husband was killed on a smart motorway has blasted an opposition councillor who criticised RMBC’s objection to the controversial scheme.
Lib Dem Cllr Adam Carter labelled RMBC’s stance against smart motorways as “virtue signalling” by the ruling Labour group at a council meeting last month.
Cllr Carter was the only member of the chamber to oppose a motion which called for the all lanes system — using the hard shoulder as a live lane — to be removed.
He said it was a “clear instinct from Labour to be an anti-business, not-in-my-back-yard administration who seem quite happy for nothing to change in the borough”.
Claire Mercer, whose husband Jason was killed last year along with a 22-year-old man on the M1 stretch of the scheme near Meadowhall, said she was “shocked” by his comments.
“It made me angry,” she said. “I emailed him to say he needed to look at his response a bit more. I didn’t know smart motorways were dangerous until my husband was killed.
“He didn’t even try to be polite [in his response]. I thought he was very dismissive.”
Claire said the councillor had misjudged his choice of words by claiming RMBC was jumping on a bandwagon to fly their own flag and believed he was the one “virtue signalling”.
She added: “I’m aware they have been against smart motorways for a while. He didn’t do his research before he opened his mouth.”
RMBC first stated its opposition in 2013.
In his written response to Claire, Cllr Carter said he believed the focus should be on improving smart motorways rather than Labour calling for the system “to be reverted to how it was ten years ago”.
The widow said she had found this “insulting” — adding: “People were not dying in live lanes ten years ago.”
There were five fatalities in ten months along the converted section of the M1 which runs through Rotherham.
“I was shocked to find a councillor in support of smart motorways,” she added.
“The only people that are supporting them are the ones being paid to build them. He is one of the few people not paid by Highways England that I have come across that supports them.”
Cllr Carter told the Advertiser he felt Labour had “needed to be reminded that they introduced smart motorways as a concept”.
He added: “I share the AA’s view that the Government should make improvements to the existing smart motorway system. I think we should install world-leading stopped vehicle detection systems, increase the number of refuge areas that are clearly needed, and increase education around all lane running.”
In response, Claire said broken down cars couldn’t be “educated” and agreed there should be more refuge areas — all along the motorway, much like a hard shoulder.