Support appeal for ‘dangerous’ Petworth road

A Petworth woman campaigning for road safety measures in North Street, after 15 people reported being hit by cars in the past seven months, is appealing for the support of the town’s MP, Nick Herbert.

Linda Westmore has herself been hit three times in the past year as she walked along the narrow pavement.

She was astounded when she was told it was too dangerous to put temporary speed cameras in the street to assess the traffic, telling The Observer: “It is demonstrative of how bad things have become when it’s too dangerous to check if the road is too dangerous.”

She said Petworth police had been very supportive and had lobbied West Sussex County Council for temporary speed cameras.

The county council turned down the application on the grounds it was not safe to carry out the assessment.

A spokeswoman told The Observer: “We would advise pedestrians not walk along the section of the road that does not have a footway.”

There was no need to use the stretch of road, she added, as all the residents who backed on to North Street had front accesses from other roads and there were alternative routes.

There was no realistic way of improving safety because there was private property on both sides of the road.

Mrs Westmore told The Observer she was amazed to discover there were alternative routes and so she was delighted when chief highways officer for WSCC Steve Johnson announced he would visit North Street to see the situation for himself.

“I was ready with hat, coat and scarf and the neighbours were on standby ready to join me once he arrived so we could be shown these alternative routes,” said Mrs Westmore, “But when he turned up he said there had been a mistake and yes, the only pathways were the ones we were already using.”

Now she is appealing for help from Mr Herbert to reclassify North Street as a B road making it easier to impose safety measures.

In a letter to the MP she said: “WSCC refuse after many times of asking to do anything. A pinch in the road to slow the traffic down would be a start. Diverting traffic not needing to go into Petworth toward the alternative route used by lorries would certainly help.”

She told Mr Herbert: “Many residents here no longer trust walking. They view it as too dangerous, especially the elderly and those with children. People have instead taken to their cars and drive the 300 yards along the road to our town centre.”

A WSCC spokeswoman said: “The decision to downgrade a classification is not for WSCC to make but for government through the Department for Transport.”