Commuters blamed for level crossing danger

COMMUTERS parking near a village level crossing are causing a danger to other road users and pedestrians – and residents have had enough.

More than 20 commuters park their cars along Etchingham High Street each day, with several regularly parking up on the pavement.

Angry villagers say this means if two large vehicles try to pass each other, one often has to drive up on the pavement to get through, causing a danger to pedestrians.

In one incident, a child only narrowly avoided being struck by a car whilst walking on the pavement.

Meanwhile cars parked on the bend obscure the view of the road beyond the level crossing, which has led to vehicles stopping on the railway line.

Parish councillor Colin Boylett says the problems have got worse in recent months, particularly following the last hike in station car park fees.

Cllr Boylett said: “Because of the bend in the road, it is very difficult to see if it is safe to go past the line of parked cars.

“When the barriers have been down for a long time, the queue on the west side of the barrier often stretches right back to the shop, with a line of queuing cars lined up alongside all the parked vehicles.

“So when the barriers come up, the cars coming from the east have to wait for the vehicles coming from the west before they can move on. The queue of cars from the east has by that time backed up over the crossing with vehicles actually stationary on the line.

“Recently a coach was coming from the east past the 20 cars parked outside the church when a driver coming from the west decided he was going through, regardless of what was coming the other way.

“The result was everything stopped.”

Cllr Boylett says the parish council, along with Etchingham’s district and county councillors, have been trying for a long time to get something done.

But at the last parish council meeting it was revealed that it is unlikely there would be any parking restrictions in place before spring.

Cllr Boylett added: “We want to see some sort of parking restrictions in place right through the village that will prevent all day parking, but not make it difficult for users of the church and the village shops or for those village residents who do not have a parking space at their house and have no option to park on the road.”

A number of villagers have written to East Sussex County Council, Sussex Police and Southeastern trains with their concerns.

And now MP Greg Barker has joined the fight.

Mr Barker joined residents and county councillor John Barnes and Rother councillor Mary Barnes to see the dangers himself. He said: “I am very concerned by the dangerous parking in the village and to learn that a child was nearly hit by a car whilst on the pavement.

“I believe we need a prompt solution to this problem and I shall be talking to East Sussex County Council about how this can be achieved. I shall also be talking to Southeastern about their parking charges at the station, which appear to have had such a detrimental impact on the local community.”

If you live in Etchingham and want to take part in the parking debate, visit www.facebook.com/ParkingWatch