LETTER: Safety statement is ‘astonishing’

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In preparing its Neighbourhood Plan, Wivelsfield Parish Council is trying to select Slugwash Lane as a highly rated “preferred development site” despite the fact that it is narrow, with poor visibility and lacking any pavements or verges for pedestrian use.

When asked if safe pedestrian access had been taken into account when assessing this site the Chairman of the Council stated, in writing, “Our policies currently don’t include this (safe pedestrian access) as this is the responsibility of ESCC Highways.”This astonishing statement is totally contrary to the Council’s policy for many years when it battled with ESCC to undertake traffic calming through the village and, in particular, widen the pavement in Green Road for the safety of pedestrians. In fact, the Chairman himself went on to state “However, I would like to point out that we have managed to be instrumental in getting a 30mph speed limit through the village, a 20mph speed limit around the school, various traffic calming measures which the parishioners have found acceptable and have had the main footpath widened.” Amongst the recognised responsibilities of a Parish Council are many related to highways and include Traffic Calming - a wide remit which ineviably involves pedestrian safety. So why the sudden change from this policy to a denial of any responsibility? Is it because including “safe pedestrian access” in the site selection criteria would have eliminated Slugwash Lane from the preferred sites list?

If so, what is the big issue for the Council, there are other sites in the parish which would not present any danger to pedestrians.

The Wivelsfield parishioners should be warned that their elected Parish Council is no longer concerned withtheir safety because, to be so, would not suit its Neighbourhood Plan.It seems highly irresponsible to rush towards a public consultation when this is just one of many serious flaws that people in Wivelsfield are just waking up to.

Alan Janes,

by email