Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Linwood to Lyndhurst Road

HCC’s Disappointing Response to Hit & Run Accidents

Presentment to Verderers Court 18th May 2016, by Richard Deacon (shared here with his kind permission) -- we previously shared his February 10th 2016 Presentment Problems with excessive Traffic and Hit & Run accidents in 2015. For more context see the end of this note.

On behalf of the CDA, my first task is to express our satisfaction and thank those involved for the newly erected signage on the B3078, Roger Penny Way, the Brook to Telegraph Rd. Some two years ago we raised our concerns at proposed signage changes and that the issue should be taken to a higher Authority. Hampshire County Cllr, Mr Edward Heron, and also now on the Verderers bench, duly chaired several meetings and has been instrumental in the most recent installation. The new arrangements catch the eye and hopefully refresh drivers awareness of the risks to our livestock and ponies.

Flushed with this success, I now move to my second task, which is to achieve the same goal on the single lane, but heavily trafficked, Linwood to Lyndhurst road, most particularly in the village of Linwood itself. My family have pursued this goal over more than the last 50 years. My late father successfully campaigned in the 1960s for the erection of two directional chevrons at Amies Corner and the S- bend at Newlands. We were forever helping to pull cars out of the bog on the far side of the latter. Those coming to grief at Amies Corner, more often needed an ambulance than a tractor.

Sadly, in the last two months, at Amies Corner, an unfortunate driver has totaled his Nissan Micra into the tree just 3m from the chevron and the ensuing fire has destroyed both car and tree. Several weeks earlier another driver, failed to negotiate the bend, missed the first tree, careered around the bank on the far side, bounced back-across the road and hit the ancient oak on the other side.

In February, I came to the court, to report 3 Hit & Run accidents involving commoners animals on this road. The number of accidents, within the confines of the village of Linwood, has now risen to 5 in just the one year. The carnage comprises;

  • a gelding and a foal each with a broken leg - both destroyed;
  • a cow, hospitalised for weeks with injuries;
  • two vehicles, written off, one a mini-bus taxi, transporting school children;
  • a Mercedes saloon with severe frontal damage.

We trust that the Verderers agree, that on a 15 km stretch of rural road, 5 accidents in one year, all occurring within the 1300m frontage that is Linwood, adequately demonstrates that Linwood has a significant traffic safety problem.

After my earlier presentment this year, HCC have responded to the Official Verderers supporting request, with a desktop study and find that Linwood 'does not meet the criteria for a 30mph speed limit'. HCC allude to the many factors to be taken into account in setting speed limits, and I quote;- 'road character, roadside development, accident history, road safety issues, current traffic speeds, junction frequency, private entrances and the presence of amenities that attract both motorised and non-motorised road users'.

We would point out that in almost 10 years, no formal assessment of traffic speed or frequency has been conducted along this road despite 2 years of the Verderers current speed enforcement initiative. In 10 years, rat run activity and congestion on the A31 has seen traffic levels soar on the Linwood Rd. Excessive speed and erratic driving behaviour are increasingly prevalent.

Linwood now has 47 homes, 2 public houses, 2 busy FC carparks (Appleslade and Broomy Walk). 11 properties open directly onto the Linwood Rd and a further 4 dwellings are served by short gravel tracks. The remainder of Linwood residents gain access via the junctions at the two ends of Toms Lane.

For 8 months of the year, the village populace is supplemented by the Red Shoot Camping Park with 110 pitches and Deers Leap Caravan Park with 34 units, each directly served by an unpaved vehicular access. In 2015, the camping park alone hosted 8687 child nights, i.e. an average of 35 children per night. These children, either with or without adult supervision, mostly access the Forest via the Toms Lane/Linwood Rd. junction where visibility is poor for drivers.

The Red Shoot Inn, meets the needs of both its own patrons and the camping park with many young children playing on the green areas immediately adjacent to the unfenced Linwood Road. At 40mph, this is a fatal accident waiting to happen.

As to amenity, the immediate area and the carparks are heavily frequented by unfamiliar holiday dogwalkers, particularly in the early morning and at dusk. Two of the National Park designated cycle tracks use all of the 1300m of the Linwood Road. Family cycle activity, training runs, and organised cycle events use the same section of road.

We do not consider that HCC's desktop study has really paid any attention to these contributing factors and we request HCC to carry out a genuine appraisal of our traffic problems, so as to secure a safe passage of traffic. To this end, I would be happy to provide a safe housing and power supply for a sustained SID survey in the vicinity of Linwood's roadside telephone box. This survey will provide accurate current data of traffic speed and frequency for a definitive assessment

Drivers need to be advised that they are entering a village community with an exceptional range of hazards. No such signage is provided at present.

Having read the minutes of the Verderers post-Court meeting of February, I must express my dismay at the Court's dismissal of any form of definition of the Linwood village boundaries. I am at a loss to find any other village within the Forest, with such a substantial make-up of homes and businesses and Forest visitor carparks, as listed above, that is not permitted to display its village name. Many much smaller villages within the Forest are clearly signposted, often with accompanying request to 'drive with care' and the benefit of a 30mph speed restriction. We can depend upon it, that if all 47 homes and 2 pubs should decline to pay their NFDC rates, the village of Linwood would not remain a non-entity for very long!

Further, after 8 years of my trying to restore suitable signage on the Linwood Road, warning of the likely presence of commoners' 'Animals on the Road, Day and Night', it beggars belief, that an unfamiliar motorist can still leave the A31 at Ringwood and traverse the entire New Forest from Rockford to Ashurst, via Lyndhurst, without ever seeing this or any other information sign warning of the presence and risk to depastured livestock.

8 of the 47 homes in Linwood house families that actively depasture animals, 5 are young commoners. We must again ask the Verderers to seek remedy of this signage deficiency.

To Sum up, this presentment is a wake up call for a proper traffic risk assessment for the village of Linwood.

Richard Deacon, Linwood resident and a practising commoner, retired civil engineer with considerable experience of highway and environmental engineering. Shared with permission to this NFA page. This follows up his February 10th 2016 Presentment Problems with excessive Traffic and Hit & Run accidents in 2015.

The Official Verderer, Dominic May, took up these issues with Hampshire County Council and made the following Announcements at the March and April 2016 Verderers Courts:

16th March 2016


'Thank you to Richard Deacon for making his presentment about speeding though Linwood. The Verderers support you in your desire to slow down the traffic, and also your wish to remove much of the traffic by discouraging the use of this road as a rat run to avoid the A31. I therefore wrote in mid-February to Hampshire County Council to request that the speed limit through Linwood Village be reduced from 40mph to 30mph as it is in most other New Forest Villages.

In my letter, I have also chased up for Hampshire County Council's long-awaited proposal to make the road across Broomy Plain a single track with passing places. If a single track road with passing places were implemented here, traffic would be slowed by the inconvenience, and use as an A31 bypass would diminish considerably.

And I have requested that Hampshire County Council erects a sign the entrance to the open Forest at Moyles Court.

I have not yet received a reply from Hampshire County Council, and when I do, I will update the Court further.

Meanwhile, we have requested that Hampshire Constabulary consider the area as a site for our Verderers-funded Speed Camera Van.'

20th April 2016


'I have received a disappointing reply from Hampshire County Council regarding the excess traffic through Linwood. It is a classic local government one-and-a-half pages to tell me that the Council will do nothing to reduce the speed limit through Linwood. And also that the proposal to protect the road verges across Broomy Plain, and install passing places, has been rejected by something called the Operation Resilience team, without any reference to, or consultation with, the Verderers. The ongoing damage to the Broomy Plain verges, which are SSSI, is a matter of continuing concern, and I will write back to suggest to Hampshire County Council that it cannot ignore its responsibilities under national legislation.'

The NFA support initiatives to reduce animal accidents and make the roads of the Forest safe. In developing our own Road Safety campaign we will be fully supporting the efforts of the Verderers, and concerned residents such as Mr. Deacon. We are very disappointed with HCC’s response; and its own stated criteria “road character”, “accident history”, “road safety issues”, and “the presence of amenities” make this area an obvious candidate for slower speeds and road safety measures.