Fresh calls to improve road safety in Burwash

The petition calling for road safety measures in Burwash was presented to the county council in May
The petition calling for road safety measures in Burwash was presented to the county council in May

Campaigners calling for a range of road safety measures in Burwash put their views to East Sussex County Council this week.

At a meeting on Thursday (July 26), the council’s lead member for communities and safety Bill Bentley considered a petition calling for a number of road safety improvements on the A265 in Burwash.

The requested improvements – including a 20mph speed limit and protective bollards – were declined, but Cllr Bentley encouraged petitioners to apply for match-funding for the scheme.

During the meeting Cllr Bentley heard representations from Natalie Crabtree and Betty McBride of Burwash Parish Council as well as the village’s county councillor John Barnes.

Cllr Crabtree said:  “Recently as part of our neighbourhood plan consultation we conducted a traffic survey. We know that people are scared and intimidated by the traffic. They live in misery when lorries plunge past their houses, shaking pictures off the wall.

“As the 600-strong petition showed, we want traffic calming measures in our high street before someone is killed. Don’t make us wait until someone is killed or maimed to put things right.”

Cllr Crabtree also spoke about how heavy goods vehicles regularly mounted the pavement in order to pass through the village and how pedestrians avoid the southern side of the road as a result.

The petition called for bollards on the pavement in effort to prevent this from happening and Burwash Parish Council says it intends to pay for their installation if it is possible. However highways officers say doing so ‘would not be possible’ as it would prevent people in wheelchairs or parents pushing prams from using the pavement.

Cllr Crabtree disagreed with this assessment, saying the current concerns around safety made the pavement unusable already.  She said: “No sane person, able-bodied or not, would use that side of the road unless they were forced to because their front doors open on to it.”

Cllr Barnes agreed with Cllr Crabtree’s assessment, saying the reasons given against bollards was a ‘Catch-22’ situation.

He said: “I have personally witnessed traffic mounting the pavement. Some of it small, some of it large, some of it agricultural. They drive within a foot of some of the doors, so people really have to be very wary when they open their front doors to make sure something is not coming.

“Bollards would rectify that but we seem to have gotten ourselves into a Catch-22 situation. We talk about measurements that would allow a double-buggy or pram to pass but no double-buggy or pram will ever use the pavement at the moment.

“That is a classic Joseph Heller Catch-22.”

Cllr Bentley also heard further evidence from highways officers while at the meeting.

The officers reiterated that the requested works ‘would not be a priority for the council at this time’, saying the council was only able to address around 35 such schemes per year and the Burwash concerns were not considered serious enough to make this list.

Officers also drew attention to the upcoming resurfacing works programme, which will see new parking restrictions put in place on this part of the A259. Officers said the new restrictions may result in improvements as drivers would have more room to manoeuvre but warned further parking restrictions may not be appropriate.

After hearing representations and further evidence from council officers, Cllr Bentley declined to implement the road safety measures requested in the petition.

However he said the county council would work with Burwash Parish Council to look at what road safety measures it would be appropriate to introduce and encouraged the petitioners to apply for match-funding once the measures were agreed.

He also encouraged the parish council to commission new studies in order to provide ‘empirical data’ about the nature of the road and what measures would be supported in the village.

Cllr Bentley said: “It is, I think, the best way forward that the [officers’] recommendations stand however I want to work with you to try to help you achieve your priorities within that area and our staff will continue to talk to you and try to offer support.

“I hope that gives you some vision and some hope that the county council will be able to find some measures to be able to assist you. It is not perhaps everything you hoped for from today but I do think we can proceed on this together.”