FOCUS ON ROAD SAFETY IN SEDLESCOMBE

SID CAMPAIGN. Sedlescombe Parish Council borrowed a speed indicator device from East Sussex County Council and set it up on six days between 22 and 28 September at four different sites in The Street.  It was manned by 23 trained Sedlescombe residents and a variety of data was collected.  The conclusion was that a sizeable number of drivers ignore the 30mph speed limit, and when in place the speed indicator device, and travel faster or much faster than the limit through Sedlescombe putting pedestrians at an increased risk of serious injury.  It was also noted that, despite the law, some drivers use hand-held mobile phones and it is not unusual for drivers and passengers, including children, not to wear seatbelts.

POSTER AND LEAFLET CAMPAIGN.  During the SID Campaign, the East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service gave out posters and leaflets in the Village relating to vehicle speeds, particularly in the public house and around the School.  The Parish Council was displaying the posters on the noticeboard outside the Post Office during the Focus on Road Safety period.

RESIDENTS’ COMMENTS.  During the SID Campaign, and as part of the Sedlescombe Parish Council pre-budget survey in the Village, residents informed the Parish Council of their concerns about road safety in Sedlescombe.  These were stated as follows:

Within 30mph speed limits

  • Car parking outside of "Bistro" which makes turning in and out of Brede Lane difficult and dangerous.
  • Car parking by Drs’ Surgery at start and end of school causing a road traffic hazard.  High potential for accident.
  • Empty car park at same time as parking outside Drs’ Surgery.
  • Turning out from Gorselands on a blind brow of a hill in Brede Lane.  Mirror is needed.
  • Traffic calming in Brede Lane needed.
  • Additional permanent 30mph speed reminders needed.  3 at each end of Green and one on Brede Lane suggested.
  • Vehicles, some with protruding mirrors, and lorries pass close to pedestrians using the narrow footway on eastern side of The Street by Brickwall Hotel.  Some hedges are allowed to grow out over the footway.
  • Dangerous junction of B2244, Pestalozzi road and Chapel Hill.  Parish Council has suggested a mini-roundabout to Pestalozzi.
  • Hedge must be kept clipped short on the western side of the B2244 at the bend by the Pestalozzi driveway at the bottom of Chapel Hill because otherwise vehicles turning right into Pestalozzi or Chapel Hill cannot see whether there is any traffic coming from Sedlescombe on the B2244.
  • Footway needed in front of Queen’s Head to improve safety of pedestrians travelling between Brede Lane and the shop.
  • Echelon parking suggested on Green side of road in front of Sedlescombe Stores.
  • Pedestrian crossing needed in The Street.

Outside 30mph speed limits

  • Vehicles using “Sat-Nav” being directed inappropriately down Crazy Lane and other lanes in the area.
  • Why are there speed restrictions on the A21 when we cannot have them in Stream Lane, where something is required to slow down traffic using the lane as a “rat run”.
  • 60mph speed limit in Church Hill, outside the Church where there isn’t any designated parking, round the Sandrock Hill sharp bend where there have been fatalities in the past, at the blind turn into Hurst Lane and where there are blind dips in Hawkhurst Road.
  • Footway needed in Sandrock Hill to link with existing footway.
  • 60mph speed limit in Chapel Hill where there isn’t any footway, where there is an active Chapel without any designated parking and where there are a lot of pedestrians and cyclists including those who may not be used to rural roads who are staying at the Crazy Lane Caravan Park.
  • Dangerous bend at the junction of Chapel Hill, Crazy Lane and Cottage Lane.
  • Blind exit onto A21 from New England Lane.
  • Need for double white line on B2244 in Church Hill to safeguard people turning left from properties or parking opposite the Church as cars overtake on the opposite side of the road.

FOCUS ON ROAD SAFETY PUBLIC MEETING.  On 27 October, the Parish Council called a public meeting for residents to ask questions of a panel of experts.  The meeting was attended by 45 residents. The experts were from 1) East Sussex County Council - Colin Clarke, Principal Engineer for Traffic and Safety and Graham Furness, Network Manager dealing with local highway maintenance and traffic safety schemes and 2) Sussex Police - Sgt Keith Ellis from the Roads Policing Department.  The Parish Council gave a short Powerpoint presentation on the SID Campaign results and on some of the Sedlescombe traffic issues recently raised by residents.

The meeting was opened to questions and comments from the floor. These were as follows:

TYPES OF TRAFFIC CALMING
1. What form of traffic calming is allowed in rural areas?
ANSWER FROM COLIN CLARKE – traffic calming is usually restricted to urban areas.  Priority working might be allowed and could be successful in slowing traffic if there is a reasonable traffic flow.  If the traffic flow is not reasonable, drivers tend to weave in and out of the chicanes.

2. Couldn’t we follow the example set in Oxford where parishes were asked to draw up a plan of what traffic measures they wanted locally and these were introduced by the County Council?
NO SPECIFIC ANSWER

3. Surely chicanes are introduced as a last resort.  Couldn’t rumble strips or gateways be introduced on Sedlescombe’s approaches.  Surely consultants are not essential. Schemes used to be drawn up on the back of a "fag" packet.
ANSWER FROM GRAHAM FURNESS.  Times have changed. East Sussex County Council does not have enough designers and, therefore, has to use consultants to find the most appropriate traffic calming scheme.

4. The fixed speed camera at John’s Cross appears to be successful in slowing traffic.  Could we have one installed just north of the village hall?
ANSWER FROM COLIN CLARKE.  East Sussex County Council is not involved with the installation of speed cameras.  However, they can only be installed under very strict Government criteria.  Twenty five points are needed for a speed camera to be installed.  In Sedlescombe, there is no chance.

5. Could we put up something at the roadside ourselves?
ANSWER FROM COLIN CLARKE.  No this would be illegal.

6. Could we have a “slow down” vehicle-activated sign in Church Hill?
ANSWER FROM COLIN CLARKE.  Not just “slow down”, the hazard has to be mentioned as well.  All relevant criteria would need to be met.

7. I came here tonight expecting to hear, following the survey, what is recommended, what can be done and when it can be done.  I am disappointed.
ANSWER FROM GRAHAM FURNESS.  The County Council has been waiting since 2000 for the revised government policy on setting speed limits and it has only just been issued.  Until this policy has been adopted by the County Council, officers can only work on the old policy by which Sedlescombe does not qualify for any additional measures.  The new policy could change this situation but the County Council must, in accordance with government policy, first deal with the villages who do not currently have a 30mph speed limit.  The County Council has to keep within its budget and fulfil its statutory duties first.

POINTS TOWARDS TRAFFIC CALMING
1. According to the Sussex Safety Camera Partnership, we currently have six points towards traffic calming within the 30mph speed limit, one point each for six minor injury accidents in the last three years?

2. Does it count in the points system if fatal accidents occurred ten years or more ago?
ANSWER FROM SGT ELLIS.  No, there is a rolling three-year period.  The Sussex Police has Sedlescombe with five points, not six.

3. Can damage-only incidents be included in the points system?  We have had our cars damaged twice when parked outside our house.
ANSWER FROM SGT ELLIS.  No.  Legally, only injury incidents have to be reported and, therefore, damage-only incidents are excluded.  Sussex Roads Policing Department’s manpower has been cut drastically with Government priorities moving towards stopping crime.  Safety Camera Partnerships have taken over installation of cameras but, of course, they do not detect all bad driving, only speeds.

See also answer to question 4 in Types of Traffic Calming.

FUNDING FOR TRAFFIC CALMING
1. Does East Sussex County Council have sufficient funds to provide traffic calming engineering projects?
ANSWER FROM COLIN CLARKE – there are ninety villages in East Sussex where the current speed limit is 40mph which will have to have traffic calming measures introduced to bring the mean speed of traffic down to 32mph before 30mph speed limits can be introduced.  Although this is Central Government imposed, no additional Central Government funds have been allocated.  Funding will, therefore, have to be identified within the County Council budget, leaving little available for traffic calming schemes in other villages that already have 30mph speed limits.  A recent chicane traffic calming scheme cost £200,000.  Parish councils have the power to pay for, or contribute towards, traffic calming schemes. 

2. How much would a £200,000 Scheme cost Sedlescombe Council Taxpayers?
ANSWER FROM CHAIRMAN OF SEDLESCOMBE PARISH COUNCIL    A £200,000 scheme would cause Sedlescombe’s Band D Council Tax to increase by more than £300 each household.  The current total parish Council Tax is £43.

3. Would that £300 be a one-off payment and if it is couldn’t the cost be raised over several years?
ANSWER FROM CHAIRMAN OF SEDLESCOMBE PARISH COUNCIL.   It would be a one-off payment but if a loan was taken out to pay for traffic calming, the cost to Council Taxpayers would be even greater because of interest payments.

4. Are you saying that any traffic calming measures introduced in Sedlescombe will have to be paid for by the Parish Council? 
ANSWER FROM COLIN CLARKE.  Not necessarily. The County Council current points system for the introduction of  traffic calming is for urban areas.  It is intended that a new policy will be introduced to bring in more rural elements including quality of life issues.  However, the other villages without 30mph speed limits will have to be dealt with first.

5. Can you tell us how much it would cost to introduce a 40 or 50mph speed limit in Church Hill. 
ANSWER FROM GRAHAM FURNESS.  It would depend.  The County Council would employ a consultant to design features that are right for the Village.  Consultations and safety audits have to be included and the cost could be between £5,000 and £8,000 just for the  consultants.

6. Which is the most effective form of traffic calming in terms of cost?
ANSWER FROM COLIN CLARKE.  Some forms of calming, such as gateway, have been found not to slow traffic at all. Vehicle activated devices do slow traffic by several miles an hour and they are not too expensive, possibly £5,000 to £8,000.
ANSWER FROM CHAIRMAN OF THE PARISH COUNCIL.  We have details that a vehicle activated sign could cost £12,000.

7. Why the discrepancy in costing?
ANSWER FROM COLIN CLARKE.  Individual schemes need to be costed.  Sometimes more intense lights are used and other factors such as the electricity supply have to be taken into account.

8. Why does it cost so much to put up speed limit signs?
ANSWER FROM COLIN CLARKE.  Speed limit signs have to be backed with proper legal speed limit orders.  This entails a series of consultations and advertising over several months.  If current speeds are too high, traffic calming measures have to be introduced to bring them down.  For example, before a 30mph speed limit can be introduced, mean speeds must be down to 32mph.

9. You seem to be giving us the impression that everything is too difficult and costs too much so nothing will be done.  Is this right?
ANSWER FROM GRAHAM FURNESS – The highways department is given a budget by the County Council and has to work within it.  At the Sidley office, there are three people covering 49 parishes.  There have to be priorities and those villages with the worst crash history are dealt with first.  Sedlescombe is not a high priority because the recent crash history is not severe.  I will speak to my officers about the approaches to the Village at Chapel Hill and Church Hill to see what can be done to recommend buffer speed limits.  There are plans, however, for 20% cuts in County Council budgets for the next three years which will mean, if introduced, a loss of staff and that less can be done. 

COUNTY COUNCIL REVIEW OF SPEED LIMITS
1. Will you be reviewing the speed limits of only “A” and “B” roads?  Could Chapel Hill be part of the review?
ANSWER FROM COLIN CLARKE.  I will be recommending to members that “C” roads are included in the review.
ANSWER FROM GRAHAM FURNESS.  It is expected that the whole Village environment will be considered including all approaches.

2. Can you be more specific about the likelihood of the lower speed limits being introduced in Chapel Hill, and maybe Crazy Lane and what is the timescale.
ANSWER FROM COLIN CLARKE.  Please write to me and the subject will be considered.

RESTRICTIONS ON THE WEIGHT AND SIZE OF VEHICLES
1. The downgrading of the road through Sedlescombe to a “B” road may not have been a good thing.  It has probably cut maintenance.  Would it be possible to restrict the size and weight of vehicles?
ANSWER FROM COLIN CLARKE.  Please write to me and the subject will be considered.

ENFORCEMENT OF SPEED LIMITS
1. With many drivers ignoring the current 30mph speed limit, what will the Police do about enforcing it?
ANSWER FROM SGT ELLIS.  The Police are unlikely to provide any enforcement in Sedlescombe.  Sedlescombe has been given a “green” grade in the Sussex Police Speed Strategy.  Enforcement in red or amber sites is a priority.  These are sites with a recent history of personal injury, fatal accidents and serious collisions.  The Roads Policing Department has limited staff to cover the area from the M23 to the east coast.  New equipment is expected to be introduced soon so that all roads can be re-assessed.  This may result in the B2244 through Sedlescombe being up or even down-graded. 

If another SID campaign is held in Sedlescombe, it might be possible for the Sussex Police to follow up with some temporary enforcement measures.  Unfortunately, the SIDs sometimes provide a target for drivers to attain high speeds and, in some cases, the SIDs have be restricted to showing “60” rather than higher speeds, in order to discourage this sort of behaviour.

USE OF SPEED INDICATOR DEVICE
1. What about the use of SID in Sedlescombe?  Should we use it here again?
ANSWER FROM AUDIENCE.  Voting appeared even for and against although no count was made.
ANSWER FROM SGT ELLIS.  When SIDs were first introduced, they were very successful because drivers thought that enforcement would follow.  However, drivers are now aware that these are non-enforceable devices and their usefulness has, therefore, declined.

See also the answer to question 1 in Enforcement of Speed Limits by Sussex Police.

A21 AND THE HIGHWAYS AGENCY
1. With the B2244 being used as a diversion route when the A21 is closed because of accidents, could the Highways Agency who control the A21 be asked to contribute towards traffic calming in Sedlescombe?
ANSWER FROM COLIN CLARKE.  I will raise the idea at my next meeting with the Highways Agency.

2. With serious accidents, including fatalities, occurring regularly on the A21 and still nothing being done to improve the road, what chance has Sedlescombe got of anything being introduced here?  The construction of a bus stop at the top of Whydown Hill on the A21 was a waste of money which could have been better spent in improvements to the road.
ANSWER FROM COLIN CLARKE.  The A21 is a trunk road under the control of the Highways Agency.  County Council/Highways Agency liaison meetings are held regularly.

CHAPEL HILL
1. Is the Parish Council committed to getting something done about the junction of the B2244, Chapel Hill and the Pestalozzi driveway?
ANSWER FROM THE CHAIRMAN OF THE PARISH COUNCIL.  The Parish Council has raised this issue with Pestalozzi International Village and hopes that some improvements can be made in association with the forthcoming redevelopment of Pestalozzi.
ANSWER FROM GRAHAM FURNESS.  This junction is complicated by the Pestalozzi entrance.  It would be helpful if the Pestalozzi entrance could be moved north or south of its current position.
ANSWER FROM THE CHAIRMAN OF THE PARISH COUNCIL.  There are houses on both sides of the entrance.

See also the answer to question 9 under Traffic Calming Funding and the answer to questions 1 and 2 of County Council Review of Speed Limits.

CHURCH HILL
1. Is there any possibility of setting a 40mph speed limit on the B2244 in Church Hill?  ANSWER FROM COLIN CLARKE – new Government guidance has recently been published which requires local highway authorities to review speed limits on all A&B class roads before 2011 and to introduce 30mph speed limits in all villages.    It is expected that Church Hill will be reviewed in the next two to three years.

See also the answer to question 9 under Traffic Calming Funding.

SANDROCK HILL
1. In addition to the problems highlighted in Church Hill, I would like to add the problems for people living in the 18 dwellings in Sandrock Hill where, unlike Church Hill, there is no footway.  We have been asking for footway so that pedestrians can walk in relative safety between the end of the footway near the Stream Lane junction and the junction with Hurst Lane.  Without a footway, it is important that householders keep their hedges cut back so that pedestrians can take refuge if necessary. 
ANSWER FROM GRAHAM FURNESS.  There has been no County Council funding for footways for ten years.  The County Council has devolved hedge-cutting letter writing to householders to the Parish Council.
ANSWER FROM THE CHAIRMAN OF THE PARISH COUNCIL.  Changes in legislation, which might be introduced following the recent local government white paper, would allow Quality Parish Councils, such as Sedlescombe, to not be limited in their spending on schemes such as provision of footways.  Previously, the Parish Council had looked at the possibility of providing a footway in Sandrock Hill but had not been able to find the finance.  {NB A safety audit was carried out in 2003 and a costing of £12,000+inflation was given for a path in Sandrock Hill.  Local residents were not consulted.}

SEDLESCOMBE PARISH COUNCIL
The subject of road safety in Sedlescombe will be on the agenda of the next Parish Council meeting which is to be held on Tuesday 14 November starting after the Open Forum (commencing at 19:00) in Committee Room 2 of Sedlescombe Village Hall.

Pauline Raymond
Clerk/Responsible Financial Officer
Sedlescombe Parish Council
Monday 30 October 2006