Mother hit by car 'died because austerity cuts forced council to switch off street lights'

Inquest found that it would have been 'impossible' for a motorist to see Cheryl Richards

Rose Troup Buchanan
Saturday 30 May 2015 13:06 BST
Across the UK street lights are being turned off
Across the UK street lights are being turned off (Getty )

A mother of five was killed after being knocked down by a car on a road where austerity cuts had forced the local council to turn off the street lights.

Cheryl Richards, 31, was walking home along Wiltshire’s A361 at approximately 2am on 27 September last year when she was struck by an Audi A3 driven by 23-year-old Lee Sullivan, an inquest heard.

Ms Richards, of Melksham, Wiltshire, died after suffering severe head injuries when she was struck by the car.

The court heard that the mother was not wearing any reflective clothing and that Mr Sullivan had been drinking when the accident occurred.

Despite this, coroner Ian Singleton ruled that it would have been “impossible” for a motorist to avoid Ms Richards – who was walking in the centre of the road – due to the “lack of street lighting”.

In 2011 the local authority elected to turn off the lights along the road – which does not have a pavement – between midnight and 5.30am in order to save the council £300,000 annually.

A councillor branded the decision to turn off the lights along the road as “foolhardy”.

Independent councillor Ernie Clarke has called for the Conservative council to review its policy, telling the Daily Telegraph that “one death is one death too many.”

Following the collision Sullivan handed himself into Melksham Polcie Station where he was found to have 38 milligram of alcohol on his breath. He was later charged with failing to stop at the scene of a collision and given ten points on his licence and 200 hours community service on 12 April.

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