Speed Watch attacked by council

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Icklesham Parish Council appears to have re-opened its long-standing feud with Winchelsea Community Speed Watch (CSW) when a councillor representing Rye Harbour dismissed the efforts of the voluntary group as “ineffective”. Councillor Jacqueline Stanford, who likes to be known as “Jax”, made the accusation at the council’s last meeting.

A spokesman for Winchelsea CSW, Chris Mears, expressed surprise : “The council has never taken an interest in Speed Watch and has no data on our work, so it’s not clear on what basis Councillor Stanford has come to the conclusion we are ineffective. Perhaps councillors should come along and see what we are doing one day? And I’m not sure what Winchelsea CSW has to do with a Rye Harbour councillor anyway.”

Mears also noted that Speed Watches have been set up in an increasing number of other villages in Rother. “So a growing number of people in the district are coming to see that Speed Watch is a practical way of tackling a widespread problem that the police do not have the resources to tackle and which most parish councils and the County Council are ignoring.”

Rye Town Council has been told that residents in New Road, concerned about the speed of vehicles coming into the town from Romney Marsh, are looking into whether to establish a Speed Watch there.

Winchelsea CSW has also been exasperated by comments at a parish council meeting by County Councillor Keith Glazier. He claimed that a community-supported proposal for pinchpoints in Winchelsea would not be allowed by East Sussex because of the “archaeology”. Mears a responded : “This is utter rubbish. There is unlikely to be much, if any, archaeology under the road and, if there was, it would not be disturbed by an extension of the kerb.

“But if we were to discover some archaeological gem a few inches below the road surface, all that would be required would be the recording of the find and perhaps moving the location slightly. Councillor Glazier’s ill-informed comments reflect his lack of interest in both local archaeology and speeding traffic.” Councillor Glazier did not respond to a request to explain the basis of his objection.

There is a troubled history between Icklesham Parish Council and Winchelsea CSW. When Winchelsea residents originally proposed setting up a Speed Watch in 2005, they received the support of the local police and Winchelsea’s councillors, but councillors from the other wards prevented Icklesham Parish Council from providing the required letter of support. Eventually, in the face of a petition signed by over 150 residents and following angry scenes at council meetings, the Parish Council gave way, but refused any other support. Winchelsea residents contributed almost £3,000 to buy the necessary equipment.

Watching the speed
Watching the speed

Community Speed Watch is a voluntary scheme sponsored by Sussex Police to monitor and report vehicles speeding by more than 10% over 30mph and 40mph speed limits in towns and villages. Volunteers use police-calibrated speed guns to monitor traffic and report offenders to the police, who send warning letters to the drivers. Repeat offenders are targeted by the police with a view to prosecution. Speed Watches in Rother (of which Winchelsea was the first) are now linked by a website which automates the process of reporting and sending letters.

The Battle-based CSW Online manages 121 groups and 755 volunteers. 85% of these are in Sussex (East and West). This makes it possible to identify drivers who habitually speed as they will be reported by several CSWs. Within the next six months, it is expected that CSWs in Surrey will join the network, bringing the total to almost 300 groups. In due course, the network may expand into Essex, Kent, Wales, the West Midlands and London and could eventually link the whole of the UK.

 

Photo: Richard Comotto

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