'Holistic' approach needed to tackle HGVs using Surrey Hills roads as rat runs

Councillors have called for more discussions over problems with HGVs using rural roads through the Surrey Hills as a rat run. They say the problem is “not taken seriously enough” and Surrey County Council (SCC) needs to look at the issues on a much wider scale and in a “holistic manner”. Members of SCC and Waverley Borough Council Local Committee have now called on cabinet member for highways Councillor Matt Furniss to meet with them to discuss what can be done about the lorries using lanes as shortcuts.

The move comes after a resident put forward a petition about HGVs on rural roads in Waverley.

Parts of Chalkpit Lane are not wide enough for a lorry and car to pass

Paul Osborne, who presented his petition to councillors on Friday (March 22), wanted to highlight how bad it was between Station Lane in Milford to Markwick Lane in Loxhill. The petition, signed by 250 people, called for a 7.5tonne HGV weight restriction to be applied to the road and to ensure housing developers enforce construction traffic management schemes. He said residents had concerns about the “exponential growth of traffic” between the A3 at Milford and the A281 in Cranleigh .

In his submission he said: “Surrey CC Highways have ignored the cumulative impact of extra traffic generated on this route by construction traffic from 3,000 new homes being built now in the Cranleigh area, and proposed at Dunsfold Park , and Milford Golf Course.

'Holistic' approach needed to tackle HGVs using Surrey Hills roads as rat runsSpout Lane, Stanwell Moor, which residents say is blighted by HGVs

“If Cranleigh tip closes it will create an extra 15% of traffic using this direct route to Witley tip. This east-west route will suffer a severe environmental and safety impact. This needs to be addressed urgently.”

Mr Osborne has been monitoring the road usage by carrying out traffic surveys on two separate occassions. He found more than 3,000 vehicles were using it a day, with 45% of those being commercial. He also found drivers were ignoring the ‘Unsuitable for HGV’ signs.

Borough co-optee member Cllr Richard Seaborne said: “I drive down that road and find it a most uncomfortable experience. HGVs certainly cause the worst of the problems. The Surrey Hills is full of examples of this.”

His views were echoed by SCC member Cllr Andrew Povey who said: “I think we are not taking the issue seriously enough in the county council. It’s a problem on a wider scale.”

'Holistic' approach needed to tackle HGVs using Surrey Hills roads as rat runs

Borough co-optee member Cllr Denis Leigh said he had stopped using Markwick Lane as he was “not prepared to put my car through the damage”. He added there were “serious tensions” in communities and a “disconnect” between what residents experiences and what highways authorities reported.

Highways officers and police officers told the committee it was hard to enforce a weight restriction. Frank Apicella, SCC area highway manager, said: “We have many roads like this in the Surrey Hills who have the same problem – narrow lanes not suitable for this type of vehicle.” He said there were already signs warning drivers it was unsuitable for passing.

'Holistic' approach needed to tackle HGVs using Surrey Hills roads as rat runsA lorry stuck under a bridge on Salt Box Road in Guildford

Inspector Gary Smith, borough commander for Waverley said traffic officers would need to look at the the whole problem and not just one road in isolation, but warned they were stretched with what resources they had.

He said: “Their biggest issue is reducing road death. That’s not to belittle this. I use the road regularly I know what a problem it can be.

Whilst we want to do our bit, it would not be top of the list for priorities for Surrey police traffic enforcement. “With regards to a magic wand about what we can do, I’m afraid I haven’t got a clue.” Mr Osborne said enforcement was not the reason for the weight restriction, but that it would still act as a deterrent and warn drivers away from using the rural roads as a rat-run through the Surrey Hill.

'Holistic' approach needed to tackle HGVs using Surrey Hills roads as rat runsA lorry stuck in a road in Woking

Committee chairman Cllr Victoria Young said the problem was a concern for all of Waverley and needed to be looked at in a “more holistic manner”.

She said she will contact Cllr Furniss and ask for him to attend a meeting to discuss the problem.

A video compiled by Mr Osborne to show the scale of the problem was shown to councillors before the meeting.

It can be seen here http://www.gu8superfast.co.uk/

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