Call for speed cameras on Lewes Road in Haywards Heath: concern about speeding cars putting residents at risk
A Haywards Heath resident is calling for a reduced speed limit that is enforced by fixed speed cameras on Lewes Road.
Simon Pockett, 42, who lives on the road with his wife and two young children, said that ‘only a very small number’ of vehicles are sticking to the current 40mph limit.
This is dangerous, he said, because visibility is poor for residents who want to pull out onto Lewes Road from their driveways.
“We’ve got hedges all around us,” said Simon, adding that his view is blocked by a telegraph pole near his house.
“You’re playing Russian Roulette really, trying to nudge out, because if cars are coming past faster than 40 or 50, then you’ve got to take a gamble and go,” he said.
“If you stall then you’re going to be completely T-boned,” he added.
Any driver that swerves around someone coming out of their drive creates danger for cars coming the other way, he said.
Simon explained that there is a 30mph limit from the Birch Hotel, which increases to 40mph at Birch Close and then to 50mph after Snowdrop Lane.
He wants the 40mph section, where he and many others live, to be reduced to 30mph.
“It’s a very straight bit of road and 40mph does seem quite slow to a driver,” said Simon, adding that people who obey the current limit are often tailgated or overtaken.
He reckons some vehicles even reach about 60mph on this stretch of road.
Simon said the only way to make it safer is with fixed speed cameras because people would ignore a lower speed limit on its own.
He is against speed bumps because they might cause a problem for ambulances but he is open to the idea of a traffic calming structure or give-way system.
Simon also said he is against an LED warning system that flashes when a driver exceeds the speed limit because it would not stop people speeding without a nearby camera.
He added that a speed camera ‘would pay for itself pretty quickly’ given the number of people who speed on Lewes Road and said it would help reduce carbon emissions in the conservation area.
Simon is particularly worried that the situation will become more dangerous as it gets dark and misty in winter.
“We’re just waiting for an accident to happen,” he said, adding that he has seen some ‘near misses’ in the past few months.
Simon has raised his concerns with West Sussex County Council and Stephen Hillier, County Councillor for Bentswood and Franklands Wards (Haywards Heath East), said police and WSCC Highways are ‘fully aware’ of the situation.
Mr Hillier said there is a ‘long history’ of concern about speeding on Lewes Road but said there is ‘limited action’ police and WSCC Highways can take because of a lack of accident data.
He also said that one section of Lewes Road had previously been reduced to 30mph ‘to reflect the wishes of local residents’.
“Only a couple of weeks ago I was successful in getting our police contact to recommend the location for consideration in their ‘Speed Management Programme’ where they liaise with the various agencies involved to see if they can come up with an action plan to improve matters,” said Mr Hillier.
He said he has also talked with the WSCC Highways Manager but, due to the lack of accident data, was unable to prioritise diverting the funds needed for an engineering solution.
“The fact that this is a significant ‘A road’ and route to traverse the county also limits what can be done,” he said, adding that speed humps are a ‘non-starter’.
“Similarly, the restrictive rules around the installation of speed cameras also mean they are a non-starter at this time,” said Mr Hillier.
“In relation to the speed camera matter, it is my understanding that national guidelines mean that these can only be installed in proven accident blackspots,” he said.
However, Mr Hillier said the Council is looking at installing vehicle-activated signs to tell drivers when they are breaking the speed limit.
He added that he had set up a Speedwatch campaign with three residents and two other ward councillors, Rod Clarke from MSDC and Haywards Heath Town Mayor Howard Mundin HHTC Mayor.
Mr Hillier said the group has gone out to many locations with concerned residents and to-date has reported 742 vehicles for speeding in the past year.
“I can confirm that when we have done sessions in the 30mph section near Birch Close, the maximum speed we have recorded in the 30mph has been 53mph,” he said.
People who would like to get involved can register at www.communityspeedwatch.org.
People who wish to reduce a speed limit can start the process at www.westsussex.gov.uk.