Safety fears spark call for Chichester juggernaut exclusion zone

Thundering agricultural juggernauts are posing a serious threat to the environment and human safety in Chichester, it has been claimed.

A call for an ‘exclusion zone’ in the city is being made by a senior member of West Sussex County Council, who wants the county, district and city councils to spearhead moves to implement strict controls to keep them off unsuitable local roads.

Cllr Mark Dunn, who was chairman of the county council from 2008-11, and represents the Bourne division, said the problem centred on ‘industrial scale’ plant in the form of agricultural machinery.

“Tractors are taking this from A to B, and they are always in a hurry,” he said. “I suppose this is because it is valuable equipment, and they are taking advantage of windows of opportunity and the weather.”

Also part of this seasonal traffic – currently at its height – were tractors towing large trailer-loads of produce through parts of the city.

“Quite frankly, these vehicles scare me,” said Cllr Dunn, who plans to raise the issue at a meeting of the county council.

“They wobble and sway, and if something wobbles, it is almost by definition not under proper control, or is unsafe.

“We live in an agricultural area, and agriculture and horticulture are basic industries employing people and contributing to our relative prosperity.

“One doesn’t want to be destructive, but at the same time I don’t consider the farming and horticultural community are conscious of the damage they are doing to people’s pleasure and of the threat to safety.”

In recent years, there had been a number of accidents involving such vehicles. “The reality is they go too fast, and the reality is some drivers take inappropriate risks,” he declared.

“There is a good case for the city to say ‘no we don’t want this stuff.’

“If one trades off the damage they do to the environment and the threat to human life against the minor advantange they get of time-saving, I do not think it adds up.”

He was particularly concerned when he saw a tractor, with something like a disc harrow in tow, wobbling about, overtaking children cycling on city roads.

And on one occasion he saw a tractor towing a trailer in Westhampnett Road which was too big to fit into one lane of the carriageway. Such vehicles should be excluded from roads in the city.

“The farming industry enjoys very large subsidies paid by the community, and by and large deserves them,” he said.

“But it should be conscious of its responsibilities.”