Bereaved father left furious by councillor’s election leaflet on A10 safety campaign following baby Louis Thorold’s death
The father of a baby who died when a van hit his pram is furious after what he called a “cheap political stunt” by Liberal Democrat councillors.
Chris Thorold persuaded Cambridgeshire County Council to install railings on the pavement and reduce the speed at the Waterbeach junction where his baby son Louis was killed in January.
But he was left angered when he received an election leaflet through his letterbox in which the county councillor for Milton and Waterbeach, Anna Bradnam, talked of her efforts to push for road safety improvements.
Chris said: “I’ve had some correspondence with them and given them the opportunity clarify this because they didn’t do anything, which they kind of acknowledged. I wanted to know: ‘Why the hell did you think it was a good idea to put a leaflet through my door with a picture of you guys standing next to our flowers, with one person I’ve never met, and claiming all our work is yours?’
“They said, ‘I’m sorry you felt that way.’ And I thought, what way did you want me to feel? I'm just bitterly disappointed with councillors and the way in which things have been done. I’m not really interested in the letters you sent and email you sent. I’m interested in what you’ve actually done.
“This happens all too much in politics. You just say ‘I wrote a letter to this person so I’ve done my job’. But what we are trying to do here is stop children dying on the roads. The fact that you sent a letter and somebody responded to it is not a success. Anyone could do that.”
Cllr Bradnam, who also represents the area on South Cambridgeshire District Council, of which she is vice-chairman, has said there was no intention to “take credit”.
His mother, Rachael Thorold, was severely injured and remains in hospital in London.
Chris, the finance director of Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group, and the family have established the Louis Thorold Foundation to campaign for better protection for children, pedestrians and cyclists on our roads and have raised more than £30,000.
Following a meeting with Cambridgeshire County Council, South East Cambridgeshire MP Lucy Frazer and Combined Authority mayor James Palmer, a three-month plan to improve safety on the A10 was agreed.
Chris said: “We invited Cllr Bradnam to our meeting with the county council as she’s our local councillor, but it was more out of courtesy than anything. And then to see that leaflet afterwards where it looks like they did all the work and made it all happen was shocking, to be honest.”
The leaflet says: “Following the recent tragic accident on the A10, Cllr Anna Bradnam has called for swifter action from the county council.
“Anna called for active speed camera for this section of road, which saw another fatal accident in May 2020. Together with the family, Anna submitted a written question to the county council requesting swifter, more positive action and consideration of a pedestrian crossing.”
It details the changes that were agreed at the meeting and adds a note from Cllr Bradnam: “I will keep the pressure on the county council… to make sure these changes are made soon.”
Chris explains that the meeting was arranged by MP Lucy Frazer, who put the Thorold family in touch with transport planners at the county council.
He says: “Those guys really actually care about road safety. We put our proposals forward. They came back with where we needed a bit more evidence. And then we eventually had a meeting, which that leaflet references, but frankly it was a foregone conclusion by then. We just wanted to make sure that people knew that we weren’t going to go away.”
He added that he was upset by the councillor’s leaflet because “it just feels very cheap, what they have done”, adding: “And if anything I just don’t want to be associated with the political side of things”.
He explained that the Louis Thorold Foundation was apolitical and that he did not want it to be “clouded by people making cheap political statements on the back of it”.
“That is what annoys me more than anything,” he added.
The Cambridge Independent put Mr Thorold’s concerns to Cllr Bradnam.
She replied: “I am fully supportive of the aims of the Louis Thorold Foundation. It is doing impressive work, both to make the junction where the accident happened safer and to change the wider approach to designing roads to be safer for children and pedestrians.
“I am very sorry that Mr Thorold feels that I am attempting to take credit for his efforts. Nothing could be further from my intentions. My aim is simply to state my support. Mr Thorold’s campaign will be more successful if everyone gives their vocal backing to its aims.
“I spoke to highways officers two days after the accident about getting speed cameras installed. Since then, I have been taking every opportunity to reinforce Mr Thorold’s demands for swift action, in a public question to the council and in ongoing discussions with officers.
“I felt it necessary to inform residents of Waterbeach of the action that I have been taking to support this important campaign - they would expect no less.”
Elections to the county council take place on May 6.