VOTE: Fight for a speed limit winning after 60 years

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A village near Chichester where residents have been campaigning for a 30mph speed limit since before the second world war looks set to get one at last.

West Sussex county councillors agreed that the limit on a stretch of the A286 at West Dean should be reduced from 40mph to 30mph, despite opposition from the police.

The county’s South Chichester county local committee concluded that the benefits to the community would outweigh the concerns raised by the police.

In a letter of objection, Sussex police said the A286 was a principal road, and as such the higher speed limit was both realistic and appropriate.

“Due to the rural nature of this road and the lack, in the main, of obvious frontage, we believe drivers will fail to realise the speed limit is 30mph, and will as a result habitually drive at a higher speed,” the letter added.

Pedestrians and other vulnerable road users would expect traffic to be travelling at 30mph or lower, so might unwittingly endanger themselves.

A committee report said the proposal was to include two additional lengths of Church Lane in the area covered by the reduced limit.

It added that this was not a proposal which officers would normally support without the addition of engineering measures to encourage lower speeds.

But the current speed limit policy allowed councillors to implement a 30mph limit in a village which currently had a 40mph one - if they considered the benefits to the community were sufficient to outweigh the risks.

Children from West Dean School addressed the committee, and called for a reduced speed limit. The school has been campaigning to reduce the speed limit in recent years.

One of them said: “We want to be safe crossing the road in our village.”

A West Dean Parish Council representative said it had a letter on its records dated 65 years ago, rejecting a reduced speed limit.

“All we are asking for is the same as other villages on the A286,” he declared.

Cllr Mark Dunn said a 30mph limit in this area was absolutely imperative. “I sincerely hope we can get something done reasonably quickly now,” he added.

Committee chairman Cllr Mike Hall, who represents the local area, also strongly supported a reduced limit. “The parish council has worked incessantly with the school to bring this to realisation,” he added.

In 2009 county councillors approved a £95,000 package of safety measures to reduce accidents on a stretch of the A286 from Chichester northwards.

That included making improvements to signing and road markings, high-friction surfacing, trimming back vegetation to improve visibility, and alterations to a number of speed limits on the route.

Over a period of five years up until June 2009, there had been 71 injury accidents, two fatal, 22 serious and 91 slight casualties reported between Chichester and Cocking on the same A286 stretch of road.