A new 40mph speed limit between Broadbridge Heath and Warnham has been agreed, despite it not meeting the county council’s speed limit policy.
The traffic calming measure in Broadbridge Heath Road is one of several proposed in the area to mitigate the impact of nearly 1,000 new homes being built at Wickhurst Green.
West Sussex County Council’s North Horsham County Local Committee (CLC) voted on Monday night to ask the cabinet member for highway and transport to make an exception to the authority’s speed limit policy so the new Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) could be progressed.
This is because the stretch of road is currently derestricted at 60mph and average speeds in Bailing Hill are 43.5mph northbound and 43.2mph southbound.
Usually average speeds have to fall below 42mph to consider introducing a 40mph speed limit, but the CLC agreed to recommend an exception be made, due to the fact that the rest of the package of traffic calming measures would help bring the speeds down.
Liz Kitchen (Con, Warnham and Rusper) said: “It’s a highly dangerous piece of road. I very much hope this committee will agree to ask the cabinet member to have a 40mph speed limit there.”
David Sheldon (Ind, Horsham Tanbridge and Broadbridge Heath) echoed his support and explained it had to be looked at as part of a wider scheme.
But Sussex Police’s response suggested that speed enforcement was ‘resource intensive, costly and does not provide a sustainable solution’, and given the location’s collision history, it would not be likely to meet the criteria for safety cameras and would be a low priority for road policing checks.
The response went on to explain that new speed limits raise the expectations of residents, which are likely to generate complaints, when these are not realised.
In Warnham’s case this would ‘no doubt generate friction between them and the police’.
The response added: “We take the view this proposed speed limit will generate Crime and Disorder Act issues where there have been none previously.
“Therefore, if it is decided by the local councillor to proceed with this and the County Local Committee supports the proposal and the speed limit is introduced Sussex Police will redirect any speeding complaints to the authority for them to consider the most appropriate resolution.
“That does not, of course, mean the police would not enforce the speed limit - we will always enforce any lawful speed limit, but we will not carry out routine enforcement activity.”
Peter Catchpole (Con, Holbrook) described the comments as ‘rather spiky’, and thought it was ironic that earlier in the meeting they had heard that WSCC had rejected a bid for a 30mph speed limit in Langhurstwood Road, just north of Horsham, because it did not meet WSCC’s criteria.
The CLC signalled its support for the move to the Langhurstwood Road Residents Group back in December.
It followed Biffa’s decision last year to stop clearing up rubbish between their site and the A264 due to safety reasons and the current 40mph speed limit.
The residents believe that although there has always been a need for a 30mph speed limit in Langhurstwood Road, the decision to stop litter picking meant there was a ‘renewed sense of urgency to make this happen’.
Brian Johnson, speaking on behalf of Langhurstwood Road residents, expressed his ‘disappointment’ and said the decision was ‘beyond belief’.
He noted that the CLC’s progress report stated that cabinet members would be looking to find an alternative remedy, but Mr Johnson said it ‘risks going nowhere’.
Officers explained that the average speed limit was 33.9mph and usually roads were only considered for 30mph limits if they went through villages or identified settlements.
Mr Catchpole said that previously WSCC’s planning committee had suggested a 30mph speed limit in Langhurstwood Road, but they had ‘misrepresented their mitigation’.
Meanwhile Warnham Parish Council’s Roger Purcell expressed frustration that no progress had been made on a scheme for traffic calming measures in Friday Street. Although the village was prepared to fund the improvements, plans were still having to go through the county council’s own assessment procedure.
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