How do we slow down drivers ?


This article is the second in a Rye News series about the Rye Neighbourhood Plan which the town may be asked to approve in a referendum later this year – and this time we focus on traffic problems.

Residents campaigning for a 20mph speed limit on our main roads have apparently been told that a 20mph limit would affect the flow of traffic – which, perhaps, is exactly what the residents want to do.

However, though what Highways England wants may be right in the case of the A1, or even the A21, the A259 is clearly perceived to be a very minor major road as the more numbers a road has, the less important it is. So the B2089 up Udimore Road is an even more minor, minor road – as a minor B road (less than A) with four numbers.

But civil servants tend to quote the law in general (as well as research in general) too often , without looking at specific circumstances. I know this because I worked in Whitehall for nearly 20 years.

A Rye resident is right therefore to be pursuing our MP, Amber Rudd, with some specific local points she wants addressing, including

  • road markings which have not been redone, placing pedestrians at risk because cars are not stopping (despite Belisha beacons)
  • a survey of cars in Winchelsea Road which showed the 30mph speed limit being constantly broken (probably because cars speed up from the Winchelsea hairpin hill into the straight road on to Rye) and
  • our heritage town with its ancient buildings is being damaged by un-necessarily speeding traffic.

Her solutions included speed cameras, more signs telling drivers if they are over the speed limit, a roundabout where Rye Harbour Road joins the main road (a frequent source of traffic jams) , and a mandatory 20mph speed limit around the town. She received a letter in reply three days later in the course of which Amber Rudd said.

“Please be assured that I appreciate your concerns in this matter. Accordingly, I have written to Mr Rupert Club, Director of Communities, Economy and Transport at East Sussex County Council, in order to request his comments to address the points you have raised………..I will write to you again once I have received Mr Club’s response”

The Neighbourhood Plan also aspires to a 20mph speed limit on certain roads (but probably outside Highway England’s control) and more speeding signs on the main routes. The Plan however is careful to separate things a Neighbourhood Plan has the power to do , and those which are “unfunded intentions for which Rye Town Council has neither the authority nor the funding”and “implementation is dependant on the agreement of partners”.

The Plan goes on to say that a strategic project, such as a bypass, is beyond the remit of neighbourhood planning, and the last consideration of a bypass (in 95/96) ended so the Department of Transport could focus on the Bexhill-Ridge link to the A21, which finally opened last year.

In her email to the MP, the resident also said that she had grave concerns about the increase in traffic going through Rye since the Bexhill Bypass was completed. And, as a resident of Valley Park off the B2089 Udimore Road, I too have grave concerns about the increase (and speed) of traffic down that hill and into the town. Only a few days ago I saw a giant foreign lorry with a trailer (making it even larger and longer) negotiating with very great difficulty the right hand turn from Station Approach into the narrowest part of Cinque Ports Street.

The next article will look at particular danger points in the town where the traffic needs to be controlled; and where Highways England needs to be aware and acknowledge that the A259 is going through a historic town with narrow streets often packed with pedestrians.

Photo: John Minter

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  1. ‘How do we slow down drivers?’ you ask. Is that the main issue?

    So often when Rye News runs a feature on our traffic problems you illustrate your article with an image of a giant truck – and with good reason.

    Speeding is a problem but (as those of us living in outlying villages on the Marsh know only too well) at least as big a concern is the vast size of commercial vehicles, for which none of our roads were designed.

    Unfortunately, control of vehicle size was frittered away by one of our governments some years ago and I doubt any effective limitation would now be possible. But that is a major source of our troubles – and the only practical answer is a bypass.

    If we can get these leviathans off our local roads then the matter of speeding cars (and did anyone mention motorcycles?) can follow. Unless we do, then anything else is going to be of limited value.

  2. There has been a good deal of discussion within the Neighbourhood Plan’s transport working group and then within the Steering Group about traffic issues. All the issues affecting the future of the townscape have been recorded, but as the Plan is essentially “spatial” it is required to focus on matters of housing and business development. Those interested in traffic issues should read the relevant sections of the Plan and advise us via the Town Hall ( or at the upcoming Town Meeting) if they consider that we have missed anything.

    Rye NPSG

  3. Simples, Speed cameras on all the approach roads in to Rye, of course people will say the initial costs, but they will pay for themselves in no time, especially in new winchelsea road.

  4. We have a similar problem in Winchelsea, which motor bikes use as a race circuit in summer completely unimpeded by the police, and where there have been two serious accidents in recent months, one so serious that it required two people to be airlifted to hospital. The solution is simple, an another correspondent points out: average speed cameras at each end of Winchelsea automatically dispensing penalty notices using number plate recognition software, as happens in London. Anyone visiting London recently must surely have noticed that everyone drives at 29mph. If you don’t, you get a ticket. If you get three tickets you lose your licence and/or the cost of insuring your vehicle becomes prohibitive.
    I wrote to Amber Rudd about this in the aftermath of one of the accidents. She replied as long ago as 12th August last year promising a response. Needless to say, none has been forthcoming.
    The solution I propose could be installed in less than a day and generate significant revenue for the local council at the same time as delivering road safety.
    The good folk of East Sussex seem however to prefer to busy themselves with Steering Groups, Neighbourhood Plans, consultation with the Town Hall, traffic calming discussion forums, committees, sub-committees and so forth. If their objective is to avoid ever having actually to take any action then they are to be congratulated for they must inevitably be successful, as they have already been with the issue of parking enforcement in Rye.
    Incidentally, does anyone know exactly WHO is responsible for road safety around here? The present system, while doubtless providing much talking shop fun for otherwise unoccupied councilors, allows the baton to be passed endlessly between the Highway Authority, the Police, the Town Council, the District Council and the County Council, to name but five.

  5. On the face of it, it is commendable that Rye News has decided to have a series of articles about the Rye Neighbourhood Plan. The problem is, both articles so far have been ‘off topic’.
    The first one was about second homes in St Ives and asking whether our Plan should have provision for this too. There is an interesting article on the legality of this, see: . However, as far as the Rye Plan goes, this is not deemed relevant. There are 175 out of 2485 households that are second homes, or 7%. This was not deemed problematic during the consultation phase of the Plan, which was started 4 years ago.
    The second article then talks about traffic. Now, the Plan has 29 policies over 7 themes covered in pages 1-124 of the Plan. Traffic is not one of them, as the Plan covers spatial development. One of many aspirations covered in pages 125-150 relates to traffic calming (AT10), which is briefly referred to in your article.
    We are now promised that the third article about the Plan will be on the subject of – wait for it – traffic.
    So many people are getting het up about traffic issues of late, rightly or wrongly, whether it’s to do with parking, volume, vehicle types, speeds, you name it – but it really is not down to the Plan to solve. We can all have clever ideas about what could be in the Rye Neighbourhood Plan, but now is not the time to be tinkering with it or to lose focus. It needs to be adopted as soon as practicable so as to prevent inappropriate development against the wishes of Ryers and so that we can benefit from the increased Community Infrastructure Levy (25% instead of 15%) going straight to Rye.
    I look forward to the third article, which I really hope will not mention traffic once. If people continue to be distracted by the ‘aspirations’, I’d quite frankly prefer for all them to be dropped, if that’s what it takes to make the urgently required progress.

  6. Interesting to note that the RNP focuses on ‘spatial issues’ including provision of additional housing and increasing commercial activity, which, of course, both lead to more traffic. So none of either is probably a better Plan if nothing can be done about the traffic. Rye Harbour is not in ‘Rye Parish’ but in ‘Icklesham Parish’ the delineation of boundaries being lost in the mists of time, perhaps something religious, not a historian, so no idea. But if you read old documents in the excellent Rye Library you will observe development plans for Rye Harbour from decades past which echo my particular concern, often expressed to various authorities, which is the extremely dangerous Rye Harbour Road junction with the A259. Dangerous for vehicles, cyclists and particularly pedestrians brave enough to try to cross the road. I entirely support the idea of a roundabout although I am not sure it is practical for space reasons. A more affordable solution might be a pedestrian/ cyclist controlled three-way crossing with some minor road widening. This would only ‘impede traffic flow’ if, heaven forbid, someone without the skills of an Olympic sprinter and constantly swivelling eyes would like to cross the road. It would also improve access to the bus stop on the grass/stinging nettle verge on the north side of New Winchelsea Road which is also a danger point given that most vehicles do not observe the 30 mph limit. Something which can be done right away is to improve signage. I doubt we need signs to caravan parks or religious buildings but we do need cheap and simple danger warning signs.


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