Anti-social Road Use on Bury HIll

On Wednesday, February 17th, Bury Parish Council chairman Karen Davis and Cllr Paul Whyles, who takes the BPC lead on road issues, attended a meeting with senior police officers and other involved parties on the subject of road safety on Bury Hill. This meeting resulted from a previous meeting between Cllr Whyles and Chief Inspector Habib Rahman, Sussex police’s new dedicated anti-social behaviour chief inspector, recently appointed by Chief Constable Jo Shiner.

Ch Insp Rahman called the meeting and it was also attended by Supt Juliet Parker, Sussex and Surrey Police Head of Operations and Partnerships, Oliver Fisher, Inspector Operations Command, Emma Tugwell-Smith, Operations Manager for Sussex Safer Roads Partnership, Jon Forster, Road Safety Manager for West Sussex County Council, Chris Stark, Areas Highways Manager for West Sussex County Council, and Jeff Travis, Media Office for the South Downs National Park Authority.

Cllr Whyles was invited to paint a picture of the issues surrounding anti-social road use for the residents of Bury, during which he discussed a 20-year history of ever-growing motorbike noise disturbance, dangerous speeding, past police operations that failed to resolve the problem, residents’ gratitude for the most recent Operation Downsway but also disappointment that no lasting and sustainable solution had been found that did not depend upon a police presence.

Cllr Whyles reminded the meeting that BPC had made a well-researched and argued application for an average speed camera installation on Bury Hill and added that BPC was disappointed by the lack of response to that application by Sussex Safer Roads Partnership. He argued that while the problems were long-standing, deep-seated and complex, the best possible approach to arriving at a sustainable solution would be one involving inclusivity and cooperation, as was represented by this meeting.

Cllr Davis added that BPC was a forward-looking and proactive parish council which was more than willing to play a role in the business case for a camera installation, adding she was confident that Bury could make a contribution via fundraising should affordability be the central issue over the provision of such an installation.

Jon Forster reported that the issue of anti-social road use on Bury Hill was something he had been aware of for 20 years and that still no solution had come to light. Engineering solutions, such as amending the start of the two-lane section of the hill, were limited in scope, he said, because of strict rules over road layouts. The meeting was told that an average speed camera installation had been made on Box Hill in Surrey where very similar anti-social biker road use was a problem. However, this had not served to reduce the problems of noise.

There was discussion of re-educating the minority of bikers who choose to speed and create excessive noise, through a campaign that would serve to stigmatise anti-social behaviour. While this was seen as a worthwhile approach, and that BPC could perhaps instigate a poster campaign to this end, it was also accepted that it would be a very long-term engagement and would not necessarily produce the sustainable solution that is most urgently needed.

Encouragingly, Supt Parker stated that she was determined and confident that a ‘blueprint’ solution could be found for the problems of Bury Hill.

Cllr Whyles said that all options should remain on the table, including average speed cameras and even acoustic cameras, which have been successfully deployed in other countries but have had only limited trials in the UK, with problems relating to securing prosecutions based upon their evidence.

It was agreed that a further meeting would be convened in about three weeks time.

While it is perhaps disappointing that an instant and lasting solution was not identified and agreed upon, it is nevertheless very encouraging that Sussex Police are engaging directly with Bury’s stakeholders in this matter and there is every reason to be hopeful that continuing dialogue will indeed produce the lasting solution that Supt Parker wants to see for Bury Hill.

Any feedback on this issue would be very welcome and should be directed to Cllr Whyles at: paul.whyles@buryparishcouncil.org.uk

Anti-social road use – A29/Bury Hill

Cllr Paul Whyles, who takes the lead on road matters for Bury Parish Council, had a meeting last week with Chief Inspector Habib Rahman, the newly appointed dedicated Sussex Police chief inspector overseeing all of the work and concerns relating to anti-social/dangerous driver behaviour. The meeting took place beside the A29 at the foot of Bury Hill and lasted around an hour, during which time Cllr Whyles was able to fully brief Ch Insp Rahman on Bury’s long-standing problems with anti-social road use on Bury Hill resulting in excessive noise and dangerous speeds blighting our community during weekends during the summer.

Ch Insp Rahman emphasised that Operation Downsway, which was so effective in reducing these problems last year as a result of police presence during many weekends over the summer, will be back this year and that if anything police commitment to it will be greater than ever.

This is good news for Bury in the short term but Chief Inspector Rahman also agreed with Cllr Whyles that a sustainable long-term solution (which was the purpose of BPC’s application to the Sussex Safer Roads Partnership for average speed cameras on Bury Hill, an application backed by our MP Andrew Griffith and our district councillor David Bradford) was his ambition. To that end, Ch Insp Rahman has convened a meeting later this month to discuss road safety issues on Bury Hill, which will be attended by a number of senior police officers, as well as Cllr Whyles. A report of that meeting will follow in due course.

Spotted a pothole?

West Sussex County Council report that more than 20,500 potholes were repaired in 2020 and are now inviting feedback on a new pothole reporting form being trialled to make it easier for the public to report potholes. If you spot a pothole which is a significant and immediate risk to public safety, it can be reported by phoning 01243 642105. For their press release and the link to the new reporting form, please see here.

Anti-social road use update

Other than the Coronavirus pandemic, another issue to figure prominently in our Newsletters during 2020 was the ongoing problem of anti-social road use on the A29 and on Bury Hill. Matters came to a head one weekend in the middle of May when a relaxation of the original lockdown rules enabled people to venture further afield and led to parishioners wondering whether Bury had become the new venue of the Isle of Man TT races.

In the event, the degree of disturbance was such that an appeal for help to our newly-elected MP, Andrew Griffith met with immediate response, with Andrew raising the issue with the newly-appointed Chief Constable, Jo Shiner and the Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne. Operation Downsway was then launched by Sussex Police who, with the aid of camera vans, patrol cars and motorbikes (marked and unmarked) roadside checks and sound-measuring equipment secured a number of convictions and ensured that we enjoyed a number of relatively peaceful summer weekends.

However, despite the sterling efforts of Sussex Police – who have to deal with similar problems at various locations throughout the county – a permanent solution is required so BPC have made an application to the Sussex Safer Roads Partnership (SSRP) for the installation of average speed cameras on Bury Hill, to which Andrew has given his written support.

Meanwhile, CC Jo Shiner has now written to Councillor Paul Whyles, who heads BPC’s initiative on anti-social road use, to reaffirm that Sussex Police have remained focused on the issue during the winter months and reports that she has just appointed a dedicated Chief Inspector, Habib Rahman, to a new post to oversee all of the work and concerns relating to anti-social/dangerous driving. CC Shiner concludes :“I hope this will reassure you that our commitment to this challenge remains, both at Sussex Police and SSRP level”. Councillor Whyles has arranged to meet with CI Rahman in Bury later this week and we will report any further developments in due course.

Road closures

As mentioned in an Update issued on Monday, the information we were given on the daytime closure of the A29 Bury Hill was incorrect. The work on tree feeling is being carried out overnight and as a consequence, the road will be closed from 19:00 hrs to 05:00 hrs from 11th to 19th January (excluding the weekend of 16/17th January.

As previously notified, Houghton Lane is due to be closed from 25th January for up to 5 days between 08:30hrs until 16:00 hrs for carriageway reinstatement by Southern Water.

Closure of Bury Hill 11th-19th January: Important update

We have discovered this morning (11th January) that the information provided by West Sussex County Council regarding the closure of Bury Hill was incorrect.

Please note that the tree felling is taking place during the night between 11th and 19th January and Bury Hill will now be closed overnight from 19:00hrs to 05:00hrs, commencing this evening.

The works will not take place during the weekend of 16/17th January and the road will be fully open. Emergency access will be available at all times.

The confusion arose, apparently, due to the large number of roadworks being undertaken in other local areas, i.e., at Coldwaltham, Watersfield and Houghton.

Apologies if anyone has been inconvenienced by this.

Closure of Bury Hill, 11th-19th January: Out of date see recent update

Please note that Bury Hill (A29) will be closed between the junction with The Street, Bury and Whiteways Roundabout between 1900hrs and 0500hrs on weekdays from 11th to 19th January to allow for Tree Ash Die Back felling and clearing.

The road will be fully open during the weekend of 17th and 18th and emergency access will be maintained at all times.

There is a diversion which you can see in the image below and also access online here

 

Winter maintenance on our roads

During winter snow and ice conditions, gritting and snow clearance of the county’s trunk roads such as the A27, A23 and M23 is the responsibility of Highways England. West Sussex County Council’s Highways division’s role is to keep the county’s other key priority routes – A and B roads, plus other roads of local importance – safe and passable during bad weather.

WSCC’s Winter Service Network routes cover 1,690km of roads and include access to airports, major bus routes, police stations, ambulance stations, fire stations, A&E hospitals and large industrial establishments. WSCC do this using 20 gritters, to which they can attach snow ploughs when required. There are 19 routes that take around three hours each to complete.To see the roads WSCC would normally grit please see here. On the map, click on the truck icon (to the left of the All On tab) to see the routes.

It is not possible for West Sussex Highways to grit or clear snow from all other roads, footways or cycle ways so parishes such as Bury are provided with a number of roadside salt bins enabling residents to spread grit at strategic places such as inclines and junctions. There are two salt bins in Bury (one in Houghton Lane just down from The Square and the other at the top of The Street opposite Old London Road) and two in West Burton (one adjacent to the parish council board and the other at Hale Hill).

A27 Arundel bypass

Highways England last week published details of their preferred route for the Arundel by-pass which can be seen here:-
https://highwaysengland.co.uk/our-work/south-east/a27-arundel-bypass/#latest- updates

Highways England will now will carry out extensive surveys and investigations to help them design the scheme in more detail and will work with key stakeholders, including local authorities and statutory environmental bodies over the coming months to ensure this consultation is suited to local needs. They will publicise the details of the consultation and how the public can take part in due course.

Our MP, Andrew Griffith has written to Bury Parish Council following the announcement and his comments can be seen here: –

“I am pleased to share with you the news that Highways England have today announced a preferred route for the A27 Arundel By Pass. It will reduce congestion, enhance air quality, improve road safety and support much needed employment and economic growth across the whole of West Sussex.

“This is one of the largest Government investments ever made in West Sussex and I am pleased to have worked with the Secretary of State for Transport and the Chancellor to secure the necessary funding for Highways England to proceed. As you may know this is a project that has been off and on since the 1950’s when it was first suggested. The current single lane road around Arundel is a regular bottleneck operating way above its design capacity and will only get worse if nothing is done.

“For residents of Bury this will take some traffic away from the local single carriageway roads. In particular it should reduce the number of inappropriate heavy good vehicles seeking to avoid the current peak time congestion at the Crossbush junction near Arundel and those ‘rat-running’ motorists shaving a few seconds off their journey by speeding on quieter country roads. By reducing congestion this should significantly improve air-quality with parishes such Storrington having been an Air Quality Management Area due to high levels of NO2 air pollution since 2010.

“Whilst I support this project, I am disappointed that the alternative routes which would have had less impact on the residents of Walberton, Binsted and Tortington were blocked by certain areas having protected status and by the failure of the South Downs National Park to endorse any route within its boundary. I am committed to supporting these local residents in getting the best noise mitigation, road design and where appropriate swift compensation although of course nothing can ease the pain of this decision on those whom it most affects.

“Once the finer details of the route have been developed there will be a full statutory consultation and I hope the parish council will respond to that in addition to publicly welcoming the announcement today. Some question whether we need to improve our roads at all. Whilst I support a rapid switch to cleaner and quieter vehicles – and the UK is a leader in this respect – they will still need roads to drive upon and there is nothing environmentally friendly about pollution caused by congestion.

“The current pandemic highlights the importance of supply chains and whilst long distance commuting has declined, the usage of local roads has if anything increased.

“Please would you share this message with local residents and businesses via any local email distribution lists or social media sites? Going forward I will share all the latest information on this topic at www.andrewgriffithmp.com/A27.”