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Devastated New Forest commoner Sarah Weston fumes after pony dies on B3078 Roger Penny Way

A DEVASTATED commoner has abandoned the ancient practice after 16 years following the loss of one of her animals in a road incident.

Sarah Weston revealed her frustration at being helpless to defend Juma, who died earlier this month on the notorious B3078 Roger Penny Way, near Fritham.

The driver alleged to have been involved, a 25-year-old from Woodgreen, is currently under investigation over the incident and has been summoned to court.

Juma (right) died on the B3078
Juma (right) died on the B3078

Sarah, an author, said: "I went the next morning and sat with his body for four hours and placed a makeshift sign in both directions for drivers. I feel defeated, actually.

"I do my absolute best to look after my ponies and they had a family herd around him which did their best to keep him safe from the moment he was born. When they crossed the road they sandwiched in between him in order to protect him."

She went on: "I came to a realisation I do not want to do this commoning any more.

"In terms of commoning I’ve done it for 16 years and really, compared to many in the Forest, I am a relative newbie.

"When I came here I made a real concerted effort to educate myself on it all and get involved with various Forest groups, including volunteering for the verderers.

"It was never about money or anything like that for me. I did it just for the pleasure of watching ponies live natural live – it’s a fabulous life. The only thing I can do is find comfort in that Juma had a wonderful life."

Just last week the A&T revealed how one resident was forced to suspend a Twitter account set up to post how quickly drivers were going on the 40mph B3078 Roger Penny Way because of concerns about some competing for the highest speed.

Earlier this month New Forest District Council leader Cllr Edward Heron revealed in a blog that a meeting had been held between him, the Official Verderer Lord Manners and the new Hampshire police and crime commissioner, Donna Jones.

Afterwards, Mrs Jones said she was "committed" to speaking to the roads policing team and senior Hampshire Constabulary officers on how to reduce speeding.

It is agreed among the partners – which include Hampshire police, Hampshire County Council, NFDC and the verderers – that a feasibility study into an average speed camera system will need to be undertaken.

What they do not agree on, however, is who should fund and maintain it.

This week, HCC's cabinet member for highways operations, Cllr Russell Oppenheimer, said: "Such a proposal would require the support of Hampshire Constabulary who are responsible for speed enforcement, and any scheme would need to be funded and operated by them."

However, a Hampshire police spokesperson said: "Currently there is no policing justification or funding opportunities to support at this stage. It is not the sole responsibility of Hampshire Constabulary, but a partnership approach."

A spokesperson for NFDC said while it supported an initiative to reduce speeding on Roger Penny Way it "is not responsible for funding or has the authority to administer enforcement activities on the public highway".

Meanwhile, the Verderers' Court said it would be willing to contribute to the feasibility study but could give no further guarantees.

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