Calls to reduce the speed limit of a busy rural road near Battle have been declined as it is ‘not a priority for the county council at this time’.
At a meeting on Thursday (October 25), East Sussex County Council’s lead member for communities and safety Bill Bentley met with a campaigner calling for a 30mph speed limit on a portion of Marley Lane, near Battle.
Cllr Bentley (Con. – Wealden East) agreed to an officer’s recommendation not to introduce a new speed limit as the road is considered to have a ‘relatively good safety record’. However he advised petitioners to consider seeking match-funding for a 40mph limit instead.
Before making the decision, Cllr Bentlety heard representations from ward councillor Kathryn Field (Lib Dem – Battle and Crowhurst) and lead petitioner Susan McAdie, who argued the road could soon see a major increase in traffic should the nearby Blackfriars development be granted planning permission.
Mrs McAdie said: “As residents we have daily encounters just walking to the neighbours or the postbox.
“It is an unpleasant, dangerous experience which will only get worse with the Blackfriars development, which will exacerbate the currently unsafe situation to an unacceptable level.
“The speed on Marley Lane should reflect the environment through which the road passes and that environment or hamlet, which meets the Government’s guidelines for a village and, therefore, its policy for a 30mph limit.”
Mrs McAdie also raised concerns about the accuracy of the crash data in the council’s report, which stated that only a single injury crash had been recorded on the road within the last three years. She said this was not the experience of residents living in the area.
She added that the petition was also supported both by Battle Town Council and local MP Huw Merriman.
Cllr Bentley also heard from ward councillor Kathryn Field, who warned of the dangers of the road.
Cllr Field said: “To my mind this is all about the safety of people. It is not about cars, it is about keeping residents safe.
“There is no footway just this very busy lane, which is heavily used by cars. It is not safe for them to behave as people normally do in a community. Slower traffic would help.”
Cllr Field also took issue with the opinion of highways officers, who argued that the area in question did not provide drivers with a clear indication for the need to reduce speed.
She said: “I think it is not fair to say that you can’t tell it is a community. There are many visual messages, there are trimmed verges, there are hedges, there are gateways. When you drive down it, it doesn’t look like or feel like a bit of open countryside.”
While Cllr Bentley declined the request to impose the speed limit, he expressed some sympathy with the residents’ views and suggested they consider pursuing a 40mph limit as a community scheme.
He said: “I think there is a real challenge around the way that we look at this today. The way I am looking at it is, what is the right and proper solution for this road according to our local policy.
“We are also looking at the resource element of it as well, because there are a number of other locations where work needs to be undertaken in forthcoming years because of a higher killed and seriously injured policy. I need to balance those things together.”
Cllr Bentley also advised that the potential impact of the Blackfriars development would need to be considered by Rother District Council as the planning authority.
He also advised that residents consider asking for a share of the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) funding to provide the scheme, if the Blackfriars development is granted planning permission.