LETTER: Pedestrian safety work in Hurstpierpoint

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As the planned pedestrian safety improvements in Hurstpierpoint High Street are due to be carried out in August I thought I might be timely to provide some facts relating to the programme of work.

Firstly this project results from many hundreds of Hurstpierpoint residents telling the parish council, during our extensive public consultation on the recently adopted Neighbourhood Plan, that they were fed up with risking life and limb on the narrow pavements in the High Street. People were very clear that they wanted something done about it and the parish and county councils have worked hard since 2012 to prepare a joint plan to address this very serious issue. During consultation meetings and a public exhibition we took on board many suggestions from local groups and people and the plan also benefited from the advice of two independent transport professionals who are also local residents. As a result we believe that this work is a project by the community for the community. I suggest that local businesses can only benefit from their customers no longer having to dodge traffic, often forced to mount our pavements to avoid oncoming vehicles or to circumvent illegal parking, in order to do their shopping and enjoy the many amenities of our High Street.

Secondly the work, contrary to some things I have read, is not being funded by the public purse. The cost is being met from money raised under Section 106 agreements with the developers of the small number of new houses that have been built in Hurstpierpoint over the last few years. The parish council strongly rejects any assertion that new houses have spoilt, or will spoil, the village and our view was endorsed by the overwhelming 92.4% majority in favour of our Neighbourhood Plan at the recent referendum.

Thirdly, while it is true that the High Street does have a major issue with illegal parking, the new layout does not do away with parking. It will, in fact, provide additional (legal) parking bays for short term use and a loading bay - which does not exist today - to facilitate deliveries to local shops. Nevertheless we do recognize the need for better parking enforcement and we are in discussion with MSDC – as the responsible authority - on how to provide this. We are also undertaking a fact finding exercise in the autumn to make the case to MSDC that a new, more flexible approach to the permitted hours of parking in our two off street car parks would benefit both local businesses and residents.

Finally the parish council is doing everything possible to mitigate the disruption from the four weeks of work including providing an information point in the High Street, advertising that local shops are all open for business and providing a shuttle bus service for people requiring public transport to travel to the village centre and beyond. We are aware that difficulties will result from the work but when it is complete we will have much needed greater safety for pedestrians. This will not of course replace the need for considerate parking and sensible driving which will still be essential.

Stephen Hand

Chairman, Hurstpierpoint and Sayers Common Parish Council

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