THE Highways Agency has been asked for more detailed information about the safety of the Ilminster Bypass in the wake of the deaths of Essex couple Paul Hobday and Michelle Edney.

Mr Hobday, 60, and Mrs Edney, 69, of Canvey Island, died on August 30 when their Ford Focus collided with a Volkswagen van on the busy bypass between Ilminster and South Petherton.

The News contacted the Highways Agency for information about the number of fatalities on the road – which is three-laned and alternates between single-road and dual-carriageway on either side –since it first opened in 1989.

But a statement from the authority said: “Our accident data shows that the Ilminster Bypass is one of the safest sections of the A303.”

When we told MP David Laws about the response from the Highways Agency he said: “Local people who know this road and use it regularly understand that there are still risks associated with the limited lane capacity.

“People will be surprised by the claim that this piece of road is safe. We need to test this further.

“I have asked the Highways Agency to look closely at this issue and then update me.”

The Highways Agency said that it was only able to release “validated figures” which are from 2004 to 2010.

A statement said: “Our sympathies are with the family and friends of those involved in the tragic accident on the A303 Ilminster Bypass but while the police investigation in to the cause of this accident is ongoing we are unable to comment further.

“Safety is always our top priority and the safety records of all Agency roads are routinely analysed and proposals for safety improvements brought forward on the basis of highest priority and where maximum benefit can be achieved for the investment made.

“Every fatal accident is of serious concern to us and we will continue to monitor safety and conditions on the A303, as we do on all our roads, assessing the cause of accidents and possible solutions in line with our review policies.”