Hurst high street traders consider legal action

High Street Traders in Hurstpierpoint (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-150206-180226008
High Street Traders in Hurstpierpoint (Pic by Jon Rigby) SUS-150206-180226008

Traders are considering taking legal action against their parish council in response to a major roadwork plan which will see the high street close for a month.

Hurstpierpoint and Sayers Common Parish Council will undertake a £150,000 scheme aiming to improve pedestrian safety which will close the High Street to through traffic from August 2-28.

But Ian Buckeridge, general manager of Fat Fish takeaway shop, in Hurst High Street, said traders are considering lodging a legal injunction against the parish council to stop the work, depending on the outcome of a freedom of information (FOI) request that they made earlier this month.

He said the traders association sent the FOI to the county, district and parish councils requesting to view all minutes of meetings, all e-mails, all correspondence and all reports relating to this scheme.

They are requesting this information because they believe the council has not efficiently proved a need for the works and they want to examine the evidence.

The Middy has previously reported traders vociferously objected to the works, stating that they are a waste of public money which will cause a huge detriment to their businesses.

The parish council has stated in response to these accusations, that the roadworks plan has been approved by county council and was a ‘direct result to surveys and questionnaires completed by the residents of Hurstpierpoint over several years’.

Mr Buckeridge said the traders were also disappointed that the parish council was the only one which asked for payment of around £1,500 to provide the information requested.

A parish council spokeswoman said this was in line with its published policy that applies to every request which states a 50p charge will be made per A4 printed sheet the council estimated the total data would exceed 3000 pages.

Angela Wade, a resident of Langton Lane, has also questioned the council’s reasons for the work.

She said: “When people discover what’s about to happen, they are all astonished and upset, this has been kept very much under the radar by the council and it is not true that there have been surveys and questionnaires completed by residents.”

In response Stephen Hand, chairman of Hurstpierpoint and Sayers Common Parish Council, said: “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.

“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.”

Mr Hand’s letter can be read in full on page 32.