News Date: Wednesday 8th February 2006
Grove Lodge roundabout
After the recent public meeting Tim chaired at Broadwater Parish Rooms about the changes at the Grove Lodge roundabout he wrote up all the points raised at the meeting in the form of a letter to Simon Dukes of the Highways Agency who was one of the speakers. Below is a copy of the letter.
Tim Loughton MP
House of Commons
February 6th 2006
Meeting on A27 Grove Lodge roundabout changes, Broadwater parish Rooms, January 21st 2006
Thank you very much to you, Kevin Jeapes and your colleagues from InterRoute, Selva Sriram and Deborah Simms, for giving up your time to attend our meeting at Broadwater on January 21st. This followed up the earlier meeting I organised on the same subject on February 26th last year, when the work was about to start. There has been some very positive feedback from that meeting and the large audience, including 13 councillors, clearly demonstrated the strength of feeling about the problems on the A27. As we discussed I am now writing with a summary of the various points that were raised where I would be grateful for your detailed response. I will be copying this letter and your reply to all those constituents who attended the meeting.
Clearly, the overwhelming view of those who attended the meeting was that the changes have been detrimental. There were also concerns expressed that all the work on the A27 is being done piecemeal rather than a holistic approach to address the whole, worsening congestion problem. Residents have also asked on what data and targets the need for the changes were originally based. Some of the comments included:
- Commuter times for drivers travelling from Worthing to Brighton have increased by 20-30 minutes during peak times
- Traffic flow along the A27 may have improved at times but the congestion on roads accessing the roundabout north and south has definitely got worse, particularly approaching from South Farm Road
- Lorries are now being forced onto pavements and causing damage
- Combined with the traffic calming measures to roads to the south of the Upper Brighton Road rat running has increased dramatically causing congestion in adjoining roads. This would explain the HA earlier claims about displacing 400 cars from the A27
- Worries that improvements to traffic flow further west towards Chichester will lead to increased problems at Worthing with the current layout
- Inevitably a number of people kept coming back to the urgent need for a full-scale bypass to be put back on the agenda and there was some confusion over studies of what proportion of the current traffic is 'local' traffic and how that is defined. In any case a bypass needs to be constructed in conjunction with other more environmentally friendly traffic solutions to secure a sustainable long term answer. I would be grateful if you could provide more information on the latest studies of this, and whether all your studies are based on an online solution to traffic rather than a bypass and over what timescale.
You explained that upgrades to the lights at the top of Sompting Road at Lyons Farm had recently been made and that should have in effect. In addition you stated that the lights are currently operated on fixed timings but that West Sussex County Council would be taking over management of the traffic light timings with their 'Urban Traffic Control Computer System' using CCTV. It was suggested that this would aid smooth running of traffic and the system would be live from April. It was revealed that the cameras would only operate on the east/west road but could this not be extended to cover the north/south approach roads with the worst congestion problems? Can you confirm the likely start date? I will also be approaching the County Council on this point.
In the light of the above it was suggested that the lights be turned off until the new computer system is in operation. It was also suggested that the lights should only be used at peak traffic times and switched off for the rest of the time, particularly overnight when they are not needed. You also claimed that the future of the traffic lights was not set in stone. At what point would you decide if the lights had proved counter-productive in practice and would switch them off either on a temporary experimental basis or permanently?
I am also concerned to hear that Sompting Avenue is to be closed eastbound for 6 weeks from February 20th and that the alternative route suggested is via Grove Lodge which can only add to the congestion. Has this been properly thought through with the County Council Highways Department?
There were also a number of complaints about the way the whole consultation about the A27 changes had taken place. Some people also commented on the publicity for the public meeting itself though it had been advertised widely in all the local media, by leaflet and posters in local shops. Several local councillors were also not happy with the lack of consultation involving them. I did suggest however that the Highways Agency website could be more proactive in publicising proposed changes as well as forthcoming roadworks etc likely to cause disruption. Can you now confirm how this can best be put into practice? In addition several people had experienced great problems getting through to the appropriate department at the HA to report problems. Can you please let me know exactly who they should contact and on what numbers for whatever problems?
A number of comments were made that the Grove Lodge changes were not bicycle friendly with specific comments that the design of refuges on the A27 meant cyclists often get 'squeezed out'. You promised to have a look at this as well as what other measures are planned to make the whole road more conducive to cyclists. In addition residents in Hill Barn Lane complained about possible problems with access for emergency vehicles given the new layout. Motorists also experienced problems accessing Hill Barn Lane in the left hand lane crowded by drivers heading east on the Upper Brighton Road exit. There were several comments about the need for better road markings on the road around the roundabout itself. Several comments were also made about the scruffy state of the roundabout itself. Can you give details about landscaping proposals?
As regards pedestrians the proposals for a pedestrian crossing on Warren Road close to Offington Drive were warmly welcomed and had been factored into the budget for the next financial year. Can you confirm that this is the case and a likely date for it to go ahead? What other plans have you got to facilitate 'safer routes to schools' particularly for those students heading to and from Findon Valley from south of the A27.
Residents from Findon Valley commented on the knock on effect on traffic on the A24 and you undertook to provide specific information to David Morgan from the Findon Valley Society, who has apparently secured yellow boxes to be added to the Offington cemetery roundabout. It would also be useful to have an update on the study that you earlier proposed about the impact on the traffic at that roundabout and whether extra measures would be needed as a result.
I realise that this is a long list of fairly detailed questions and I would be grateful for as much information as you can give. In addition County Councillor Colin O'Neill has written to the Highways department at the County Council with issues that specifically concern them. I will also be re-issuing the resident's survey which we used last autumn to gauge the reactions of a wider selection of views by local people not represented at the meeting, and will pass on the findings to you. Clearly this is a developing situation with further changes yet to come into effect and I would therefore appreciate being kept in touch as closely as possible after your response to this initial letter so that I can pass on the information to my constituents.
Tim Loughton MP