What's this all about?
.East Sussex County Council (ESCC) is currently drawing up proposals for an extensive traffic management scheme for Alfriston village.
This website has been set up by a group of villagers - Conserve Alfriston - who have been and are working hard to persuade ESCC, and key stakeholders that there is a better way to manage the congestion that can occasionally occur, than the proposals ESCC are suggesting.
We want to see a village (and valley) wide traffic scheme, that is sensitive to our historic environment.
In May 2016, ESCC put a scheme to the village that included:
- 9 traffic light heads
- numerous signs -
- expect oncoming traffic (between the main traffic lights)
- keep left
- no entry
- no right turn
- an extensive box junction
- turning the Market Square - home to one of only two grade 1 listed market crosses in Sussex - into a roundabout
- diversion of the South Downs Way
The ESCC traffic light scheme is very much an urban scheme - "a bog standard scheme" in the words of ESCC as reported in the unadopted minutes of the May 2016 APC meeting. Indeed, in the consultation ESCC compared the situation to Lewes. But Alfriston is a historic rural village, not a market town. It deserves better. Surely a more sensitive way can be found, that conforms with recent thinking on traffic management? (Click here to find out more.)
Despite opposition to the scheme from Alfriston Parish Council, South Downs National Park Authority and us - Conserve Alfriston - , as expressed at the Lead Member's meeting in September 2016, the decision was taken at that meeting to progress the scheme to the design stage.
Click here to learn more about what was said at that meeting.
We then worked to make sure that our opposition to the scheme, and our concerns about the way the scheme had been presented to the village, was known to ESCC. (Click here to read more about our objection to the scheme and here to read about our concerns on the consultation.) We worked up an alternative valley-wide proposal to manage traffic in the village, one more suited to the nature of the village. At the end of April 2017 we held an exhibition weekend at the Old Chapel Centre for the village to see the potential impact of the ESCC scheme and learn about our alternative proposal.
We were genuinely thrilled by the numbers who attended the exhibition weekend, by the constructive, friendly nature of the conversations we had with the many people we spoke to, and by the number of feedback forms we received - overwhelmingly positive - on the alternative proposals.
After the exhibition weekend, we presented a petition to ESCC to 'urge ESCC not to take its own proposal beyond the design stage, but instead to work with villagers on the proposals presented at the exhibition weekend on 29th & 30th April 2017. The petition was supported by 365 people, overwhelmingly villagers.
The petition was presented formally to ESCC at their meeting on 23 May 2017. Copies of the petition plus a letter summarising our activities and including the analysis of the feedback forms from the weekend and other supporting documents were also given to ESCC and other key stakeholders. We had a brief acknowledgment of the petition and documents and have sought to discuss our work in more detail with ESCC. It was initially thought that ESCC would come to a decision in late summer 2017, but it wasn't until 29 March 2018 that we had a meeting with ESCC traffic consultants and other stakeholders where they shared the work they had been doing to evaluate their initial scheme, and the conclusion they had reached.
At that meeting ESCC explained that they were now considering a revised scheme, which still involves an extensive traffic signal scheme in our historic, medieval high street, and which may now be put to trial, provisionally in September. At their meeting on 21 May 2018, the decision was taken to proceed with the trial.
Our proposals (which you can find here) were considered - but only the suggested improvements to HGV signage and the introduction of a 20mph speed limit will be considered further. ESCC noted that while some of the remaining proposals 'may improve driver awareness and encourage a change in driver behaviour through the village' they consider 'that these measures will not address the issue of managing opposing traffic flow through the narrow sections of the High Street or provide a suitable alternative to traffic signals to positively control traffic.' While we are pleased that ESCC will consider improved HGV signage and the lower speed limit, we are disappointed that they will not consider any of the other proposals aimed at improving driver behaviour which could, in turn, help with managing traffic flow throughout the village and the valley.
Click here for the latest news on the trial.
You can read more about the exhibition weekend here.
If you want to help, or find out more, please get in touch via the contact page.