Category: Somerset

Reference Library – England – Somerset


‘Astonishing’ Petworth traffic figures are campaign ammunition – Midhurst and Petworth Observer

‘Astonishing’ figures brought to light in a new traffic survey has revealed a lorry nightmare in Petworth which is even worse than townspeople feared.

The survey was commissioned by Petworth town councillors to gain ammunition for their plea for action from West Sussex County Council’s highways officers.

They are campaigning for measures to stop huge lorries thundering illegally into the town centre which become stuck and cause traffic chaos on the narrow streets of the ancient market town.

Lorry signs ban vehicles over 7.5 tonnes entering the town at all unless they are delivering and those can only use Angel Street.

But the survey has revealed that from mid to June to mid July 226 lorries over 7.5 tonnes came into town via Angel Street – 31 of which were over 40 tons, a further 228 over 7.5 tonnes entered through Pound Street – 18 of which were over 40 tons and another 866 also over 7.5 tonnes used North Street, 104 of which were over 40 tons.

Chairman of Petworth Town Council Chris Kemp said: “This is worse than I had realised and it demonstrates that we suffer very badly from these lorries in the town. I believe about 99 per cent of them are coming through illegally.

“The figures are astonishing and give us good ammunition to fight for a solution to our lorry problem.

“This shows there are a large number of lorry movements through our town for the sake of it every month.”

Town councillors believe that the £140,000 lorry signs installed after a previous campaign, some ten years ago are ineffective, unclear and in the wrong places.

They commissioned the £1,600 survey at their own cost using a company recommended by county highways officers because it produced the criteria the county council required before they are prepared to consider action. “I think it’s going to be quite difficult for them to walk away from these figures,” said Chris.

In addition to the lorry figures, the survey has revealed a shocking number of cars speeding in the centre where the speed limit is 30mph.

In the month from mid June to mid July it showed a daily average of 1428 cars entering the town via Angel Street and 85 per cent of them were doing an average speed of 35 mph.

An average 5055 came in through Pound Street with 85 per cent travelling at an average 30mph and 5153 came in via North Street daily with 85 per cent doing an average 32 mph.

“A lot of time traffic is crawling through the town,” said Chris, “so an average 85 per cent doing these speeds is really a bit scary.”

He said he had been sceptical about claims of speeding before the survey: “When you are walking, cars passing you at 30mph can seem very fast. But lots of people have told me traffic is speeding in Petworth and I think this survey shows they are right.”

He said a previous survey had showed the average speed of cars in the town centre was 12-18mph. But counters in the new survey had picked up speeding at the edge, inside the speed limits, where there were parked cars.

Petworth Business Association (PBA) is also carrying out a survey and all its members have been asked for information on how they receive goods.

“This will give us a complete list of what deliveries we have in the town,” said Chris.

“The results so far are very surprising and show most of the shops are stocked by van or car,” he said although there were larger known lorry deliveries including to the supermarket and to the Post Office.

“We are still waiting for the final results of the PBA survey, but what we have so far demonstrates most lorries are just passing through.”

He added: “All the results demonstrate the current signage is not adequate – it is not fit for purpose.”

Once all the information was gathered, he said town councillors would have to sit down and work out a strategy to solve the town’s traffic problems.

“We know the county council does not have any money but if we can agree a strategy with them to solve the problem, we will find the money somehow.”

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Call for action over notorious bridge on the A5 – Hinckley Times

Leading councillors have called for action to be taken to stop lorries smashing into a low railway near Hinckley.

The crossing over the A5 between Dodwells Roundabout and Nutts Lane has been struck four times already this year.

And with each smash causing long delays on the road and rail, calls are being made to alter the road, bridge, or install a gantry as an additional warning to drivers.

David Bill, Leicestershire County Councillor for Hinckley, said action to stop the wasted time and money was urgently needed.

He said: “These incidents have been going on for the 40 years I’ve been a councillor and on many occasions they have disrupted the rail network as well as the roads.

“Over the years this must have cost the local economy millions of pounds with all the delays.

“I hope this incident results in something being done.

“So far, there has been insufficient effort to stop these things from happening.

“There are warning signs but those are somehow not understood by drivers.”

He suggested the installation of gantry structures either side of the bridge that would cause high vehicles to hit a dangling strip, alerting the driver without damaging the lorries or the bridge.

He said: “I’ve suggested it in the past but everything’s too much trouble and money and it’s never clear whether Highways England, which is responsible for the road, or Network Rail, which is responsible for the railway bridge, should pay.”

Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council member Keith Lynch, member for Hinckley’s Clarendon ward, where the bridge is located, said: “It’s a ridiculous situation.

“The A5 should be suitable for lorries so either they need to raise the bridge or lower the road.

“The bridge is too low. End of story.

“Someone’s got to bite the bullet and put their hand in their pocket.”

Lorry wedged under the bridge on the A5 near Hinckley

Lorry wedged under the bridge on the A5 near Hinckley

Motorists got stuck in long traffic jams on the A5 after a lorry hit the bridge last month.

It was at least the fourth serious incident involving the bridge this year.

In December, the 15ft-high bridge was struck by a lorry carrying aerosols, some of which exploded.

On many occasions in recent years, such collisions have led to trains between Leicester and Birmingham being delayed and it is listed as the third most struck bridge in the country by Network Rail, which has to pay out thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money to train operators when trains are delayed.

A Highways England spokesman said: “The bridge is owned and maintained by Network Rail.

“We do have signage in place to warn drivers of the height restrictions and are continuing to look at how we can help drivers become more aware of the risks.”

A Network Rail spokesman said: “We are aware a lorry struck a rail bridge in Watling Street in Hinckley.

“Bridge strikes cause significant delays to both road and rail users, as well as disruption to the community.

“We share the frustration of our stakeholders that they happen so frequently at Watling Street and would be happy to discuss initiatives which would reduce the number of bridge strikes.

“When a road vehicle strikes a bridge there is a threat to railway safety and, as Network Rail is taxpayer funded, all the costs incurred, including delayed trains, are paid for by the public.”


HGV driver was at the wheel for 22 hours – and this is how he broke the law – Huddersfield Examiner

A HGV driver has been fined after driving for 22 hours – with breaks totalling just 70 minutes.

Kirklees magistrates heard that Jamie Derbyshire travelled for long periods of time without taking the legally required breaks.

He pleaded guilty by post to three charges of travelling for more than four-and-half hours without taking a minimum 45 minute break.

The offences cane to light after the 28-year-old was stopped for roadside checks at Ainley Top in Huddersfield.

M62 Motorway: Junction 24 at Ainley Top. (Image: Huddersfield Examiner)

He explained that he was travelling from Chorley to Rotherham and handed over his digital tachograph card showing his driving times, distance and speed.

On October 26 he travelled for eight hours and 17 minutes with a stop of just 16 minutes.

Then on November 9 he drove for eight hours and 13 minutes with only a 21 minute break.

And on February 17 he travelled for five hours and 55 minutes, stopping for 33 minutes.

Derbyshire, of South Street in Rotherham, confirmed that he was aware of the driving regulations and made no further comment to police.

Kirklees magistrates fined him £330 and ordered him to pay £212 prosecution costs plus £33 victim surcharge.