Coroner in M5 crash case may seek change in law

M5 crash victims Terry Brice, from South Gloucestershire; Tony and Pamela Adams, from South Wales; Kye Thomas, from Cornwall; Michael and Maggie Barton, from Berkshire; and Malcolm Beacham (not pictured); all died

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A coroner examining evidence about a fatal pile-up on the M5 in 2011, said he may consider seeking a change in the law to control how close fireworks displays can be held to key roads.

West Somerset Coroner Michael Rose was speaking at a meeting to discuss ways to prevent a similar tragedy happening.

An inquest in April heard that seven people died after their vehicles entered an area of reduced visibility.

The coroner said smoke from a fireworks display nearby did not cause the crash.

However, he said it may have mixed with fog to further reduce visibility.

'List of recommendations'

At the meeting on Tuesday he was told that fireworks display training had improved since the crash.

Mr Rose had prepared a list of recommendations which were discussed at the hearing.

Some ideas he floated included better training for those who stage displays.

He said: "Training of display operators should include instruction on the hazards of operating firework displays during periods of high humidity and after adverse weather."

But the Health and Safety Executive and the British Pyrotechnists Association said tighter regulations for operators would not prevent a repeat of the accident.

Mr Rose also said he was considering calling for no firework displays to be held "within distance of any motorway or Class A road".

He also secured a commitment by the Highways Agency to install more warning signs on the M5 near Taunton to warn of dangers ahead when traffic is slowing down.

The crash happened near junction 25 of the motorway at Taunton in November 2011.

The families of those who died are calling for licenses for fireworks display operators.

Geoff Counsell, the organiser of the fireworks display, was cleared of a health and safety offence last year.

The coroner's draft report had not been previously agreed by the relevant public bodies.

As a result, Mr Rose said he would produce a fresh report within a week taking into account of his view and others, which he will present to the government.

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