“Streetlights must be turned on” says Archie’s brother

The brother of Warwick student Archie Wellbelove who was killed after a taxi hit him on an unlit stretch on road in Leamington last year, has spoken to the Boar about the council’s light switch-off policy which “contributed” to his death.

French student Henry Wellbelove, 20, believes that the “the lights must be turned on” but does not cite the council’s cost-cutting measures as the main factor in his brother’s tragic accident.

He said: “Streetlights are there for a reason.

“The greatest shame is that Archie was hit under an extinguished light. The council must renege on their decision and turn the lights on all night long, especially in winter.

“I don’t think [the light switch-off] was the main cause. My brother was drunk, wearing dark clothing, and walking on the wrong side of the road.

“There is little doubt in my mind that it could have been avoided if the council hadn’t decided to turn off the streetlights in the middle of the darkest season of the year.”

Archie, an 18 year-old English and French student from Bedfordshire, was hit by a taxi on the A452 road near Leamington in the early hours of December 7, 2012.

It took more than 45 minutes for emergency services to locate Archie’s body, which was only found when the council were phoned to restore lighting on the road.

Henry’s comments come after Coroner Dr Richard Brittain ruled on Monday that Warwickshire council’s decision to switch off selected street lights in the county “contributed” to the 18-year-old’s death.

Dr Brittain called for an early review of the policy, which was originally scheduled for July.

Henry was pleased with the result of the inquest which also cleared taxi driver Mour Ali of any wrong-doing. However, Mr Wellbelove also called for an apology from Warwickshire council.

He said: “I think the first response should be an apology to my family, because the impression I get is that they worried not for my family’s upset, but for a potential court case that could arise if my parents were to sue.”

Taxi driver Dil Ramzan, an acquaintance of Mr Ali agreed that the council had “let themselves open to legal challenge.”

Mr Ramzan, who has been driving cabs in the Leamington area for more than 22 years said: “Archie’s death should have been a warning, and now the council are vulnerable.

“If there are more accidents they could be held negligent. They have a duty of care to their constituents who pay taxes.

“They want to save half a million, but what price can on be put Archie’s life? Compensation means nothing, it won’t bring him back.”

Speaking at the inquest, Graham Fitton, head of transport and highways at the county council said: “If I have to save £500,000 then whatever I do will always have an impact on safety in some way.”

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