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Layby may be closed after crash

PUBLISHED: 13:15 13 February 2008 | UPDATED: 14:27 07 July 2010

Highways officials have revealed they plan to shut a lay-by on a country road close to where a motorcyclist died after crashing into a tractor and trailer.

Highways officials have revealed they plan to shut a lay-by on a country road close to where a motorcyclist died after crashing into a tractor and trailer.

Father-of-two Chris Brown, 43, died instantly from multiple injuries following the collision on the B1110 at Hoe just outside Dereham last June.

An inquest in Norwich on Friday heard that Mr Brown, an electrician, of Potters Bar, Dereham, was riding his 1,000cc Yamaha bike at a “significant speed” - and above the 60mph limit - when he struck the JCB Fast Track tractor and trailer, which had just been driven out of the lay-by by farmer Nigel Stangroom, of Whissonsett.

Norwich coroner William Armstrong - who recorded a verdict of death as a result of a road traffic collision - said Mr Brown's speed was a “principal factor”.

But he also said he took into consideration concerns raised by Mr Brown's father Harry about the dangers posed by the lay-by on the sweeping bend and would draw the matter to the attention of Norfolk County Council.

After the hearing, spokesman Steven Reilly revealed there had already been an investigation of the site following Mr Brown's death

“Visibility for vehicles emerging from the lay-by is limited due to the nature of the road, and we are proposing to close the lay-by over the course of the coming financial year.

“We will begin consulting with the local parish council and local farmers and businesses around April-time about this proposal.”

Mr Reilly added that the lay-by had not been looked at before because there had only been one recorded accident in the previous 10 years at the site before Mr Brown's death.

Harry Brown welcomed the news and said: “At least we have got that.”

But he called for a change in the law to make it compulsory for all tractors with flashing warning lights to have them on.

The hearing was told that Mr Stangroom's JCB Fast Track was fitted with an orange beacon light but it is not compulsory for it to be on as the vehicle goes above 25mph. Only tractors which cannot travel at that speed have to have them going.

Mr Brown said: “The law is a farce at the moment. I believe if that light had been on, my son could have been alive today.”

Mr Armstrong said it was “only a matter for speculation” whether it would have made a difference if the flashing light had been on.

He said Mr Stangroom made a “careful and considered judgment” before emerging on to the road from the lay-by but there was “no possibility” of avoiding the collision with Mr Brown. Mr Armstrong said there was no reason to criticise Mr Stangroom's driving.

Mr Stangroom, who has driven tractors for 25 years, said Mr Brown “was not there one second but was there the next”.

The hearing was told no prosecution would be brought against Mr Stangroom or Matt Hull, who had ridden to and from Wells with Mr Brown and had been behind him when the crash occurred at about 9.30pm on June 20.

Mr Hull described how he came round the corner and saw the tractor and trailer across the road but could not see Chris.

He managed to brake and only had minor impact with the tractor.

Two motorists whom Mr Brown and Mr Hull overtook said they were travelling “very fast”.

Police investigator PC Nicholas Kett said Mr Brown had been “travelling at a significant speed on impact”.

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