County urged to act on rat run concerns

JPCT 15-03-12 Warnham, Bailing Hill S12120229a -photo by Steve Cobb
JPCT 15-03-12 Warnham, Bailing Hill S12120229a -photo by Steve Cobb

WITH poor road surfacing, speeding traffic, and insufficient road signage, Bailing Hill has been added to the list of dangerous rat run roads in Warnham as West Sussex County Council finally agrees to investigate

A number of Warnham residents are concerned about Broadbridge Heath Road, Church Street, and Bailing Hill which are frequently used by motorists travelling to the A24, making the route a ‘nightmare’.

JPCT 15-03-12 Warnham, Bailing Hill S12120214a -photo by Steve Cobb

JPCT 15-03-12 Warnham, Bailing Hill S12120214a -photo by Steve Cobb

“Warnham is one of the most sought after villages in West Sussex,” said Pauline Latham, of Wyvern Place in the village. “But its tranquillity is being shattered by selfish and crazy drivers who take advantage of the council’s failure for so long to make the necessary road safety improvements.

“Bailing Hill has been the site of many accidents and some fatalities, although never enough of the latter to warrant doing anything about it!”

The issue of unsafe rat runs have recently gained heightened interest as the situation is likely to get worse as more houses are built to the West of Horsham leading to a replacement of the A264 bypass by Tesco with a pedestrianised link road further south.

Pauline also pointed out that an ‘insignificant’ “Road Narrows” sign is often ‘obliterated by tree foliage’, and other road signs appear to encourage motorists to speed around the critical bend.

Entering Bailing Hill from Warnham, the advisory 20 mph speed limit is replaced with a 30 mph limit suggesting that people may speed up as they enter the sharp narrow ‘S’ bend.

Furthermore, as they leave the first bend a de-restricted sign is placed on the second, where the majority of the accidents occur, according to residents.

Many large vehicles, including double deckers carrying school children, travel the narrow road which has become ‘almost like a third world country’ due to badly filled potholes.

Crashmap, an online road map collated by the police, shows that between 2006 and 2010, there has been one fatal accident (at least one person was killed), four serious incidents (at least one person was seriously injured) and four slight incidents (at least one person was slightly injured) on Bailing Hill and Broadbridge Heath Road.

The owner of the Bailing Hill Deer Farm on the bend has had to repair the fence which has been broken many times in car crashes to ensure that his deer do not escape.

Olive Thornton, 87, who has lived in the village since 1977 and lives on Church Street said that she is most concerned about the large commercial trucks that come through the village.

Martin Verbeeten, 48, a local resident and company owner admitted that trucks carrying materials for his company used the area and suggested that more speed bumps and mini roundabouts would help to slow traffic.

Mr Verbeeten also pointed out that the rat run situation also arises from people cutting out the ‘pinch point’ on the A24 during rush hour.

West Sussex county councillors were confronted about the issue at a meeting at County Hall North on Monday March 12 and Brad Watson (Con, Southwater and Nurhurst) said the council ‘are fully conscious of their concerns’ and have asked officers to investigate so that they can come up with practical solutions’.