September 19th, 2023.

Lewes Green Party release:

Green Party Councillors have criticised East Sussex County Council for failing to take action on rat running by HGVs, which they say is causing fear and misery for residents.

East Sussex County Council will consider a Green Party petition next week which calls for action on HGVs using villages and country roads as short cuts by introducing a ‘lorry route network’ to encourage HGVs onto A roads and away from villages, narrow streets, and residential areas. The petition was signed by 400 residents, including many from Ringmer, where the earlier launch of the petition saw more than 60 residents protesting on Ringmer village green and marching along the main road.

The petition was also signed by residents living near the C7 and in Firle, Newhaven, Ditchling, Glynde, Barcombe and South Chailey. It was submitted in March this year and is only now being considered.

Green Party Councillor and prospective Parliamentary Candidate Emily O’Brien, (pictured above left), said: “Whilst we all support our local HGV drivers and welcome local deliveries, too many HGVs are using our villages and towns as a rat run to get to other places. This county council report admits that Ringmer alone sees 400 lorries a day. That’s an HVG charging through a residential road with scarily narrow pavements every 3.5 minutes. And the county council has only counted during working hours - in reality this is a major problem from the early hours of the morning. HGV rat running is damaging air quality, exacerbating our pothole crisis, and causing sheer misery for residents, yet where’s the action?”

Green Party County & District Councillor Johnny Denis, (pictured above right), said: “We are pleased that in response to resident action and this petition, the county council have at least agreed to look at a new freight strategy which just may look at restricting HGVs on B roads. But it’s incredibly disappointing that there is not even a firm time commitment for making that decision. It’s taken over six months to consider this petition only to kick it into long grass. If the Conservative run county council really wanted to take this matter seriously they would be taking action now – and we urge the council to go much further and faster at next week’s meeting than the current report recommends.”

The Green Party reported that an unusually high number of residents chose to leave comments in addition to signing the petition. They say that many petitioners shared a sense of fear and isolation, including older and disabled people, with one resident stating “It feels so dangerous to walk up to the shops, the pavement is narrow and the lorries are big and travel very fast.”

Several parents who responded reported the difficulty of taking buggies and children along narrow pavements and the impact on school journeys. One resident stated:  “I live in a village where my children can't walk along the main road to school safely due to the extreme amount of HGV traffic. Instead, they are going a longer back route.”

Many residents commented on the impact on their mental health with one saying “The constant rumble of traffic is detrimental to our health both physically and mentally. This problem must be addressed.”

The county council’s report states that there are a number of reasons for HGV traffic along B roads including the introduction of sat navs which may route traffic away from major roads especially when there is congestion elsewhere. The Green Party suggested that high traffic levels on the A27 in particular is encouraging traffic to take back routes and pointed out that in a recent survey by Transport Focus, the A27 was voted the worst major road in the country.

The petition can be viewed HERE.
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