Hambledon Parish Council has held talks with Surrey County Council highways engineers and Surrey Police road safety officers in order to press home its case for measures to reduce the speed of traffic through the village.
At the same time, it also raised concerns about road safety at the Hydestile Crossroads and along the narrow Salt Lane and Marwick Lane, already a rat-run and likely to become even more of a danger if and when the approved new homes are built at Dunsfold Aerodrome.
It emerged that Hambledon is unlikely to get a 20mph speed limit through its centre – which some villagers have been asking for – as neither Surrey County Council or Surrey Police have any evidence that speeding is a problem. And they do not have data to indicate injury accidents have occurred with any frequency.
Nevertheless, the parish council stated that there was anecdotal evidence to indicate speeding was an issue. The outcome of the meeting was that speed data recorders will be temporarily installed at key locations along Hambledon Road to measure traffic speed.
However, the council was warned that this exercise may demonstrate that there is no significant speeding in the village, despite perceptions. And severe budget restraints may limit or exclude any steps that could be taken to implement traffic calming.
It was also suggested that Hambledon could consider implementing its own community speed watch. Police would provide villagers with approved speed detection devices. Drivers of vehicles caught speeding are sent warning letters.
The council has been investigating whether a 20mph speed limit could be introduced in the centre of the village, and in particular in the narrow section outside the Merry Harriers pub and the village nursery school, both of which have expressed support for traffic calming measures.
Parish councillors Mary Grove and Stewart Payne secured a meeting with Surrey County Council and Surrey Police. Only SCC has the authority to approve road changes and reduce speed limits, and only Surrey Police can enforce the limits.
The meeting took place on Tuesday (February 26th) and was attended by Adrian Selby, senior SCC highways engineer, Graham Cannon from Surrey Police road safety traffic management office and PC Steve Milford, casualty reduction officer. Councillors Grove and Payne and Julie Fleney, parish clerk, showed them around the village and highlighted areas of specific concern.
Mr Selby had previously written to the parish council stating it was “extremely unlikely” that Hambledon would meet the criteria for lowering the current 30mph limit in the village centre. He also stated that SCC data did not indicate that any “particular safety problem exists” and that he was not able to recommend any engineering measures such as changes to road surfacing or road narrowing.
Despite this, Hambledon Parish Council has persisted and the meeting provided an opportunity to show SCC officers around the village and to discuss its concerns face-to-face.
Mr Selby said that in many areas where 20mph limits had been introduced, they had met with little success and were difficult to enforce. Mr Cannon said that with police resources stretched, officers were not available to routinely enforce such limits.
Mr Selby and Mr Cannon made it clear that without any statistical evidence to support the claim that cars were speeding through the village, no new schemes were likely. However, they agreed to provide speed measuring equipment, as a first step.
It was acknowledged that two pedestrians received minor injuries when crossing the road outside the Merry Harriers last year, after they were struck by a car that they did not see coming. It was considered likely that the car was speeding, but without proof there was no evidence to support a prosecution.
This was the only injury accident on record in recent years. The majority of the accidents on and close to the Hydestile Crossroads were damage only.
Mr Selby examined the signage on the approaches to the crossroads to see if any improvements could be made to alert drivers to the junction, which has seen a spate of accidents. And he was aware of concerns that the road is used as a rat-run, despite being narrow, and that HGV use had increased. He said that the majority of lorries were making local deliveries.
Although the meeting offered the parish council little hope of any significant measures to reduce speed, the offer of data recording was welcomed.
Separate to its discussions with SCC and Surrey Police, the parish council has also been exploring others avenues.
Councillors Grove and Payne have attended meetings of a working group headed by the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty organisation, which promotes and supports initiatives to reduce traffic speed in rural villages.
As a result of this, Hambledon’s issues will be on the agenda at the next meeting of the Highways Working Group. This meeting is likely to be hosted in Hambledon at a date to be arranged.
Rob Fairbanks, Surrey Hills AONB director, has also stated that he doubts that Hambledon would meet the national criteria for a 20mph zone.
But the meeting will consider how the village may benefit from other measures, such as roadside planting and street “furniture” that will emphasise to drivers the narrow and rural character of the roads and send a subliminal message to slow down.
Little if any public money is available to support such schemes and it may be that villagers will have to decide if they wish to help fund any initiatives that emerge.
Details of Surrey’s Community Speed Watch can be found here: