Monday, April 23 2018

Published on January 11 2018. Opinions
Deadmans Lane railing failing
Deadmans Lane: how long must we wait for action?

Deadmans Lane railing failing

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

There Are 11 Comments

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  1. One has to wonder why when the houses were built at the top end of deadmans lane,the council did not insist on a path down it,as it is a public highway,as for the crumbling brick wall,also adjacent to the mountfield estate,who is liable if it falls down on somebody.

  2. Sheila Melchers says:

    There is no point in doing half a job. The whole length of this dangerous eyesore should be taken away, whatever the cost. The longer people procrastinate, the more expensive it will become. It is an accident waiting to happen!
    Being on ‘the wrong side of the tracks’ as an entry point for Rye for those who live or travel from north of the town, it certainly would look more welcoming.

  3. Lesley Newman says:

    If the removal of the railings made way for a much neeed footpath, then the road wouldn’t be widened.

  4. Jan says:

    Is this not a straightforward case of the local highway authority serving a notice on the landowner to remove the ‘nuisance’?
    The authority has a duty to ensure safe use of the public highway and the landowner also has responsibilities.

  5. Walking down Deadmans lane the other day,and observing the wall and then the adjacent railing, they do meet up together so it has to be the landowners responsibility to clear this unsightly eyesore up,and not for the council’s and taxpayers to foot the bill, Rother district council have advised people in the past,if you do not look after your boundarys, you can be taken to court.

  6. Caroline Fincham says:

    As a user of Deadmans Lane there seemed to be a couple of major issues, Rude drivers who have no concern for anyone who has the audacity to walk down the lane, they tend not to wait until it is safe to pass and also pass at speed, and the railings, they do bend out at certain points and will cause at the very least infection and a major injury, I’m amazed they have been allowed to be ignored for so long, or am I !
    Having said that there are some very pleasant drivers who are happy to wait.

  7. Chris McGrath says:

    This lane is now one of the main entry points to Rye and the danger has noticeably worsened in the last five years, so that it is nearly impossible to use with a bicycle or on foot, let alone for the disabled or with a pushchair.
    The Highways Department should immediately prepare proposals for a safer carriageway, sufficient only for cars, with a limit of 10mph, together with a reasonable footpath, say 1.5m wide. If there is insufficient existing width then a strip will have to be compulsory purchased.

  8. Andy Stuart says:

    Here is the law that it is East Sussex’s duty to enforce. One would have thought that the landowner wouldn’t need the law to tell him what to do – simple morality would mean that you wouldn’t leave your barbed wire and rusting spikes at the eye level of a five-year-old sticking out into a narrow road with no pavement.

    Highways Act 1980

    Section 164 (Injurious toppings)
    The local highway authority has a duty to ensure the safe use of the public highway and this section deals with the problems of injurious toppings on fences and walls that are so low that they could easily injure a person simply walking along the public footway.

    Section 164, clause (1) of the Highways Act 1980 states the following:

    Power to require removal of barbed wire

    Where on land adjoining a highway there is a fence made with barbed wire, or having barbed wire in or on it, and the wire is a nuisance to the highway, a competent authority may by notice served on the occupier of the land require him to abate the nuisance within such time, not being less than one month nor more than 6 months from the date of service of the notice, as may be specified in it.

    The term ‘barbed wire’ has been interpreted to mean anything with spikes or jagged projections and this would include any made aggressive topping or addition to a wall or fence including carpet gripper, broken glass, nails and preparatory products such as plastic and metal spikes.

    The term ‘nuisance’ has been interpreted to mean something that is likely to cause injury to people and animals using the highway and most highway authorities consider things that can cause injury lower than 2.4m to be a nuisance.

    If you fall foul of this law you will be issued with a notice requiring you to remove the danger within a specific time period.

  9. David W Orpwood says:

    Perhaps I should politely point out that the article attributed to David Worwood has nothing to do with me, David W Orpwood. Though I happen to live in Rye ….. what a strange coincidence?

  10. Whoever wrote this post about this dangerous eyesore needs congratulating, this dangerous eyesore has been going on for far too long, and either Rother district council, or East Sussex County Council, need to serve notice on the landowner to clean his act up, before somebody gets seriously hurt.

  11. Carol says:

    I simply want to endorse those comments. Dead and lane is prophetic!

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