A24 Ashington blocked path triumph

JPCT 200614 S14260687x  Ashington.  Dangerous hedgerow on A24 -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-140620-091244001
JPCT 200614 S14260687x Ashington. Dangerous hedgerow on A24 -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-140620-091244001

A couple have won a two year battle with the council to clear hedgerow that they say dangerously blocks a path alongside a busy dual carriageway.

Frustrated by his lengthy campaign, Sullington resident Alan Murray has released to the County Times his correspondence with the West Sussex County Council’s Highways department.

Although the Highways team has agreed to cut back the unrestricted stretch of trees and shrubs from the Ashington path - that runs alongside the A24 opposite Kate’s Cakes factory - a representative told Alan that its main concern is ‘traffic management’ to protect its workforce.

Assistant highway manager for Chanctonbury and South Mid Sussex, Roger Harding, told Mr Murray: “The main concern has been the traffic management needed next to this high speed road.

“You will be pleased to know we have a way forward and the contractor has programmed the works within the next two weeks. To enhance safe working they want to work early on Sunday morning when the traffic volumes are lower.”

In response, Mr Murray said that the council appeared to be more concerned for its own workforce, rather than village children who he said had risked their own lives to cross the path since his campaign began.

The 62-year-old told the council: “Interesting that you (quite rightly) want to protect your workforce - grown adults - on what is acknowledged as a high speed road, when, for two years, you have really not given a damn about the complaints from the many people - including the Parish Council, adults, and adults with children - whom you had forced to walk on the road.”

Mr Murray and his partner Stefanie Parnell spoke to the County Times last month about their experiences stepping into the busy A24 road to walk past the growth.

In an email to Mr Murray, Horsham district councillor Roger Arthur (UKIP, Chanctonbury)said: “The WSCC Highways department seems to have a policy of discounting risks, unless there is a record of injuries, or death,” he said.

“That approach is clearly inappropriate in a case like this, where the risk is obvious and significant.

“There is a real risk here and WSCC should not wait until someone is hurt before addressing it.”

WSCC Highways told Mr Murray it has programmed the work to be carried out on July 13, unless there are unforeseen circumstances.