Calls grow for speed cameras at New Forest animal accident blackspot
CAMPAIGNERS have renewed calls for speed cameras to be installed along a notorious New Forest road following a spate of horrific accidents.
Support is growing for the technology on the B3078 Roger Penny Way, which crosses the national park from Cadnam to Godshill and has been the scene of a series of fatalities involving commoners’ animals including several hit-and-run accidents.
Now Gilly Jones, who heads the New Forest Roads Awareness Campaign, has launched a petition calling on New Forest District Council to back calls for average speed cameras.
Yesterday (Thursday) the petition, which will be on NFDC’s website until 4th April, was approaching the 1,000 mark having been signed by 980 people.
It stated: “In light of the recent tragic deaths of three donkeys, two sheep and four ponies on the B3078 Roger Penny Way and the history of animal casualties on this route, that the district council adds its support to calls for the introduction of an average speed camera system on this route.”
The issue of average speed cameras along the B3078 was raised in 2017 when a number of Forest organisations pledged to support the plan.
However, the campaigners were unable to secure the backing of Hampshire’s police and crime commissioner (PCC), Michael Lane, whose office would have been responsible for data and fines. However, he is set to stand down at the local elections in May.
Ms Jones told the A&T: “We have been down this road before but technology has advanced a great deal in three years.
“We know that average speed cameras are not going to be the complete solution but they would go some way to tackling the issue.
“Even though average speed cameras would cost a significant amount of money, it is certainly a cheaper solution than fencing the length of Roger Penny Way which would also change the face of the Forest.”
Official verderer Lord Manners has promised to write to every candidate standing for election to be Hampshire’s new PCC in May, to mobilise support for the speed cameras.
Describing the “appalling” spate of accidents which “shocked” the Forest last month, Lord Manners said he first contacted Mr Lane in 2018.
Lord Manners told the Verderers’ Court: “Unfortunately, the resources needed to support the data collected by average speed cameras was not available at the time.”
Support for the campaign has also been pledged by senior councillor Edward Heron, who as well as being deputy leader of NFDC is also a verderer, Hampshire County Council cabinet member, and national park authority member.
He said: “It is a real shame that it has taken these tragic accidents to get the issue back in the spotlight but if any good can come from this it would be getting up enough momentum to get this issue back on the agenda.
“I am delighted this petition has been launched. What we do know is that the installation of these cameras is very likely to be technically possible and many of the key partners such as the verderers and the national park authority are already on board.”
If successful, the next phase of the proposal would be to undertake a detailed feasibility study which is expected to cost in the region of £40,000.
However, Cllr Heron said it would be pointless to proceed further without the support of the police.
He said: “The last time I met with the police and crime commissioner in 2017 to discuss the issue I was unable to secure a commitment to proceed with this.
“The key issue is the processing capacity. The data from the average speed cameras is processed by the police, and without a commitment from them we cannot move forward to the feasibility study.”
A spokesperson for the PCC’s office said: “The role of the police and crime commissioner is to bring partners together to address speeding in a collaborative way.
“The PCC and the office of the PCC work with both our policing colleagues and partner agencies as we strive to keep our communities safer.
“Town, parish, district and borough councils have a range of traffic management enhancements they can deploy as needed by working with their top tier local authority, and neighbourhood policing teams can request the Safer Roads camera van for activity, so concerns can be flagged and the mobile van can then be sent out in the nominated area.”
She added: “The PCC does not have any decision-making role or award funding for speed cameras, but we have encouraged the constabulary’s road safety team to reach out to those New Forest communities seeking support.”
The latest animal to be killed on the New Forest’s roads was a white Shetland pony which was in a fatal collision at Norleywood crossroads on the B3054 on Saturday. The incident was reported to the verderers at around 7.25pm and agister Robert Maton attended.
Only residents living within NFDC’s area can sign the online petition which is at bit.ly/2YbM8au