CALLS for an urgent review of the lighting on East Lancashire’s main motorway have increased after a fatal crash on Saturday.
Best friends Mohammed Iqbal, 48, and Mazafer Iqbal, 47, were travelling along the eastbound carriageway of the M65 when the crash happened between junctions nine and 10 at 2.15am.
Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle has joined Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson and Blackburn MP Jack Straw in expressing his desire for night-time street lighting to be considered along the route.
Last November, the Lancashire Telegraph launched its Turn The Lights On campaign after the death of Burnley-born Mark Burgess, 39, who was thrown from his car when it crashed into a barrier near junction eight.
Mr Birtwistle said: “The lighting should be on, no question. I have supported the campaign since it was launched and this tragic event goes to show why.
“How much is a life worth? I can’t believe it only saves such little money. Is that what these men are worth?
County Coun Terry Burns, Labour member for Burnley North East, and County Coun Jeff Sumner, Lib Dem representative for Burnley South West, also called for the lights to be turned on.
Coun Sumner said: “It’s all about saving money but we need to start saving lives. I know there are budget cuts, but without wanting to politicise those, let’s just get the lights back on.”
Although there is no indication that Mr Burgess’s crash was linked to the lack of lighting, motorists caught up in the aftermath of the collision said they believed they would have been able to avoid debris had there been lights.
The Highways Agency, which is responsible for the motorway between junctions one and 10, permanently switched off the lights between junction seven at Clayton-le-Moors and 10 at Burnley in 2011 as part of a scheme designed to save around 350 tonnes of carbon every year.
Junctions one to seven have never had lights except at junctions, while the section of the M65 between junctions 10 and 14 is the responsibility of Lancashire County Council.
The lights are switched off between midnight and 5am in order to save the authority £10,000 each year.
However there are plans afoot to remove the lights next year when work is carried out top strengthen the central reservation.
Following an inquest into Mr Burgess’ death, Blackburn, Hyndburn and the Ribble Valley coroner Michael Singleton asked the Highways Agency to reconsider its 2011 decision, and a review is due to to be carried out in September.
County Councillor Tony Martin, for Burnley Central West, said he was unsure if lights would make a huge difference: “I drive up it quite a lot and while I found the lights helpful when they were on, I still feel the motorway is one of the safest.”
East Lancashire coroner Richard Taylor is expected to open inquests into Mohammed and Mazafer Iqbal’s deaths today or tomorrow once formal identification and post-mortem examinations have been completed.
Pendle councillor Mohammed Iqbal, a friend of the men, said their funerals would take place this week.