LETTER: Chaos should be investigated

I was very interested in your report about the traffic chaos on the A286 on the 26th May and I wish to add the following commernts.

1. According to one of the men controlling the traffic at the Birdham roundabout their work schedule for that day started with work outside Goodwood Racecourse, on the day when they had a race meeting. Luckily the racecourse manager saw them in time and told them to clear off.

They then set up to construct a red rectangle with several bars preceding it just south of the Birdham roundabout. The temperature was nearly 26 degrees that morning and he told me that this kind of work was best done in lower temperatures so the material would go off quickly. Also it was often programmed to be done in the evening or at night to reduce the inevitable traffic problems.

He also said the crew were very surprised when they saw their work schedule knowing that it would be a very difficult job with three way traffic control on that Friday.

2. I think the comments you managed to obtain from WSCC are incredible as this work was scheduled on an ‘A’ class road in West Sussex and their highways department must have authorised it.

It was being carried out by a contractor operating with a large yellow truck often seen white lining all over the county. I sadly did not make a note of the contractor’s name but there can be only a handful of contractors with the equipment to do this work and I hope that you may be able to trace them for their comments. Many drivers were getting out of their cars taking photos so hopefully you will receive one of the vehicle.

Also regrettably the young man on traffic control with his radio told me he had never received so much verbal abuse as he experienced that morning. I was talking to him at 12.50 when he said that they had just had a call telling them that they must finish off and clear the site by 1300 – I wonder who called them other than WSCC.

3. As I have told you I had been in Chichester to leave my car with Hendy Ford and told them I would take the bus home but the service manager kindly offered to drive me instead. Little did he realise what he was letting himself in for.

We left their premises at 11.15 and duly hit the traffic queue before the turning to Dell Quay road, crawling all the way to Birdham. He dropped us off in Bell Lane and because of the chaos I directed him back to Chichester on the back road.

Another friend of ours spent one and a half hours on a bus getting home to Bracklesham Bay, so the comments attributed to ‘one of our contractors’ about no traffic problem and no work going on inferring the information I gave you was incorrect is very aggravating – suggesting I made it all up. He obviously came down in the afternoon when the contractors had cleared the site.

4. Before calling you that morning I had rung WSCC at County Hall and told them of the chaos and the initial comment was that the work had been planned/ programmed many weeks in advance so I told them that someone had made a catastrophic error and that they should tell Louise Goldsmith about it and get it stopped. This must have been done seeing they suddenly finished work at 1300.

5. I feel the comments attributed to WSCC and ‘one of our contractors’ should be examined further as it would surely have been better to admit that they had made a mistake, rather than to deny all knowledge of this work going on. The umbrellas have been raised unfortunately. Undoubtedly the contractor will be invoicing the county for their work so tracing them would complete the circle.

I do think the problems that day do warrant further investigation as a result of the council’s statement denying all knowledge of the work and I shall be interested to learn what additional facts you are able to obtain.