Beckley

Deborah Ongley

Beckley Main Street

I note with some surprise the correspondence on the Beckley Village Society website concerning the lack of progress on the introduction of a 30mph limit in Beckley. Perhaps not many of those writing have attended the Parish Council meetings or Parish Assemblies of the last few years!

The Parish Council minutes of 1911 are the first recorded mention of a need for a speed limit for traffic passing Beckley School. Requests have regularly been made to the Highway Authority (once Battle Rural District Council) but alls fell on deaf ears! Finally, the Labour Government of 2004 instructed Highway Authorities to introduce 30mph speed limits as follows:

“On the basis of the minimum number of houses and length of speed limit, an average density of at least 3 houses per 100 metres over the extent of the 30mph speed limit is recommended.”

Thus, ESCC, who are currently the Highway Authority, first came to the Parish Council in April 2009 with a proposed 30mph speed limit from Budden’s Green west as far as Beckley Motors. The Parish Council’s attitude at that time was “Great! Do it tomorrow, but could you extend the area to include the rest of Main Street and the part of the A268 in the village please?” ESCC said it was only a draft and police/safety audits were needed before they could leave a plan with us for discussion. The scheme involved an island west of the school and the widening of the road in order to make space for this.

ESCC staffs were invited to attend the May 2009 Parish Assembly meeting, but were unable to do so. The meeting keenly endorsed a 30mph speed limit, but villagers were concerned about the proposed island and the parked cars outside the school. They wanted a limit with signs and road markings only. This was put to ESCC, who produced a new scheme.

Early 2010 the new scheme was unveiled displaying two build-outs, one at Beckley Motors and one west of the school by the bus stop. Again, the map could not be left for consultation.

May 2010 the Parish Assembly again strongly requested a 30mph speed limit. A number of objectors to build-outs made their case. Farmers were concerned that modern tractors would not be able to get into their fields, Beckley Motors was concerned that the tanker deliveries would become impossible and parents were concerned that irresponsibly parked cars could jeopardise children’s safety by the school. ESCC staff were invited to attend, but were unable to do so.

June 2010 there was a public meeting organised by ESCC in the Village Hall to discuss the build-outs scheme. Two ESCC members of staff came and about 40 villagers attended. The estimated cost of the scheme was £50 - £60,000 and villagers were scandalised that this expense was proposed in a recession. Villagers again requested a scheme without build-outs. Villagers asked that signs and road markings only be used. The ESCC officers explained that the police would only enforce a limit on an ‘A’ road, thus any proposal needed to include traffic calming features so that the limit became self-regulating. Villagers asked that a new scheme be brought to another public meeting.

ESCC have spent two years producing another scheme and in May this year they advised the Parish Council that they had a new plan with five build-outs. As Parish Clerk I have been chasing the Highways Department for a meeting on this over the last four months, as the council is keen to progress it to a public meeting to give villagers their voice.

I hope I have made it clear that at no time has the Parish Council dragged its feet or lost its enthusiasm for a 30mph speed limit through the village. Unfortunately, it seems difficult to impress on the Highways Authority the realities of life in Main Street – parking for the school, parking outside the recreation ground on Saturday mornings, access to the fields for tractors and access to Beckley Motors for tankers all need to be taken into account. Staff changes may account for some of the communication difficulties, but they cannot really justify the hugely extended period over which ESCC have been ‘consulting’.

12 September 2012 30mph Speed Limit Saga Update

On the 24th September two officers from ESCC Highways came to a meeting with six members of the Parish

Council, bringing along the May Plan with five build-outs which had now been assessed by the road safety team. The audit had flagged up a number of safety issues, some of which were matters already raised by Beckley Parish Council e.g. the difficulty of accessing the field by the bus stop. Since the officers had not changed the plan to accommodate either the objections raised by the Beckley Parish Council or the safety audit there seemed little option but to await their next draft. Once more they were unable to leave a plan with us for public discussion.

At the October Beckley Parish Council meeting the council resolved to approach the leader of ESCC, Cllr Peter Jones, again over the matter. At the Parish Assembly 2010 Cllr Jones had witnessed many villagers raising concerns about build-outs and had reassured them “If you don’t want build-outs, you don’t have to have them.” Readers will have appreciated that ESCC are proliferating build-outs rather than removing them and the council seeks Cllr Jones’ help in resolving the interminable debate.

Write up by Valerie Ades , Clerk, Beckley Parish Council

*Beckley Parish Council has their website up and running. Please check it out. www.beckleyparishcouncil.co.uk. The next meeting will be Wednesday 14th November at 7:30pm at the village centre. BECKLEY PARISH COUNCIL MEETING in January is

Scheduled WEDNESDAY 9 JANUARY 2013 has been re-arranged and will take place at 10.00am ON SATURDAY 12 JANUARY 2013 IN THE VILLAGE HALL. Should the meeting prove successful, with many villagers attending, the PC will consider quarterly Saturday morning meetings.

Tickets are selling well for the 40’s & 50’s Night on Saturday 24th November 7pm-11pm at Beckley village centre This is a fund raising event for Beckley Village Centre. Bring your own drinks & nibbles. (There will be free tea & coffee) Fancy dress would be great, but don’t be put off if you don’t want to dress up! Tickets are £8 on the door. 01797 260 846 or email charlestonjivesquad@hotmail.co.uk

Beckley Horticultural society Monday 26th November at 7.30pm Annual General Meeting followed by a Social Evening held at Beckley village hall

*The BSA is holding a quiz with supper on Friday 30th November 7.30pm at Beckley village hall. If villagers & friends would like to enter a team to find out who are the “Brains of Beckley” please can they email BSAPTA@live.co.uk.Tickets are £10 per person to include supper and teams of no more than 8 please and will be available from the school office after the half term holiday.

*Bargains in Beckley. Setup for locals to sell items they no longer need and want to sell, if you are looking for something why not try posting a wanted post. No selling fees like most internet sites or local free papers. Just go on face book and enter Bargains in Beckley and join this free group we have over 133 members.

*So that residents are aware they can contact our District Councillor Ian Jenkins via e mail. This will help the parish by giving you more immediate responses to questions or concerns. cllr.ian.jenkins@rother.gov.uk. Rother District Council has a fly tipping telephone line 01424 787000 or an online reporting system www.rother.gov.uk/article/3133/i-want-to-report-fly-tipping.Please give full details of location and what the fly tipping consists of.

*Dog fouling isn’t just unpleasant, it’s illegal. Dog owners have a responsibility to clear up after their pets, those that don’t can face fines of up to £1,000.If you would like to make a dog fouling complaint please phone 01424 787000 if you don’t make this call they will keep letting their dogs do it.

*To put everything is this column, please email. beckleyvillagevoice@live.co.uk