Call me an idealist, but I hope 2018 is the year the people of Rye will finally see the removal of the dangerous iron railings in Deadmans Lane.
I’m not the only one who believes these spiked railings, which have been in place for decades, severely threaten public safety. Scarcely a month goes by that I don’t hear from someone complaining about them and suggesting that it’s only a matter of time until there’s a serious injury or fatality.
The land on which the railings sit forms part of the Mountsfield estate, which belongs to Lord Ampthill (David Russell), who is a Rother District Councillor representing Rye. Our roads are the responsibility of East Sussex County Council’s (ESCC) Highways department. As locals know, Deadmans Lane is a narrow road, frequently used by motorists as a short-cut into Rye from the north. Many visitors to Rye also use this rat-run, and these users are largely unaware of the railing problem.
Last week I was in touch with both Lord Ampthill and ESCC leader Keith Glazier, who also represents Rye, about these railings. Cllr Glazier assures me that discussions are happening and that he’s on the case. Lord Ampthill confirms he’s been in touch with Cllr Glazier and his council officers and that two site inspections have been held in recent months. The ESCC is looking into whether it’s possible to introduce measures to restrict wider vehicles from using the lane.
Councillor Glazier’s webpage says that as a councillor he gets the chance to “take the lead on issues of local and national importance” and that he wants “to change things for the better for people living in the east of the county”. I put it to Cllr Glazier that this railing issue is a clear example of where he can make a real difference to the people he represents.
Lord Ampthill points out that tree roots are entwined with the railings, making removal “painstaking and expensive” but he also tells me “it is not clear where any responsibility lies”. To me, this suggests there could be some argument over who pays for the railings’ removal, which may explain why nothing has been done for decades. The landowner also expresses concern at vehicles speeding down the lane and says that a slightly wider road could lead to higher speeds. Nobody wants that, I believe.
My suggestion to our councillors is that, as a bare minimum, the sharp spikes on the railings could be cut off immediately. For some reason, my proposal that the railings simply be removed at ground level with an angle grinder was rejected by Cllr Glazier. I argue that removing the railings would in no way prevent a safer fence being erected in its place, at a safe road width. Another suggestion I make is for two or three speed bumps to be installed in Deadmans Lane, if it is considered absolutely necessary to reduce vehicle speeds. Vehicle width restrictions could easily be imposed by road signs on Rye Hill.
I’d like to offer my full support to councillors Glazier and Ampthill in their bid to resolve this problem, which local people find hard to believe has been going on for decades. It’s not rocket science: this problem can and must be resolved as soon as possible. Why don’t we set a six-month deadline of July1, 2018? This should allow plenty of time for discussion of the options and for work to be carried out. How long must Rye residents wait for a decision to be reached on this problem?
The patience of Rye people is not infinite. We want something done about these railings before someone is badly hurt or killed. We don’t want Deadmans Lane to be renamed after a man, woman or child killed by the railings, when the solution to the problem is so simple. Bickering about who’s responsible for doing something won’t cut the mustard with voters, especially when it comes to local district and county council elections.
I strongly urge councillors Ampthill and Glazier to get together with ESCC Highways and sort out this long-running problem by July 1, before a serious accident occurs in Deadmans Lane. I’d invite local people to lodge their comments on this opinion article and I thank Rye News for the opportunity to have my say.
Photo: David Worwood