Commoner Sarah Weston 'astounded' as her petition calling for speed cameras on B3078 Roger Penny Way signed by nearly 52,000 people
A PETITION calling for average speed cameras to be placed on a New Forest road notorious for animal accidents has closed with nearly 52,000 names.
Organiser Sarah Weston said she was “astounded” at the response to her call for action on the B3078 Roger Penny Way, prompted by her vow to give up commoning having lost her pony, Juma, in an incident in early August.
She is calling for cameras to be placed on the route, which has a 40mph limit, as she believes education and raising awareness campaigns are “not sufficient”.
Support has been indicated by Hampshire Constabulary, police and crime commissioner Donna Jones, highways authority Hampshire County Council, the verderers, New Forest District Council and Forestry England.
However, the agencies appear to be at odds over which of them should pay, maintain and enforce them.
This week a frustrated Sarah stepped up her campaign by writing to them and pointing out that Google data had shown numerous drivers doing more than 50mph on the route within a few hours.
Sarah told the A&T: “These animals are a major draw for visitors from all over the UK and abroad and make a major contribution to the local economy.
“No doubt almost all of our 13.5-million and more visitors every year would be upset to learn that so little was being done to enforce the sensible speed limits which affect their safety as well as that of the ponies, other stock and wildlife.”
NFDC also has a petition, signed by more than 2,000 people, on the issue and has pledged to look at solutions. Its leader, Cllr Edward Heron, previously said a feasibility study would be needed – which the verderers have offered to help fund.
The A&T approached the agencies about Sarah’s letter and all pledged to “continue” to work on the issue.
HCC cabinet member for highways operations, Cllr Russell Oppenheimer, reiterated his belief average speed cameras should be funded by Hampshire police.
“As previously stated, such a proposal would require the support of Hampshire Constabulary who are responsible for speed enforcement, and any scheme would need to be operated by them, on a full cost recovery basis,” he said.
But Hampshire police Chief Inspector Mike Bettington said only roads with the highest collision rates are examined further to establish the causes and the most suitable measures.
He pointed out “police resources are limited” and only a “limited number of roads can be prioritised at any one time”.
Forestry England said “the decision to install speed cameras on any section of road is primarily one for the relevant local authorities and highway agencies”.
NFDC pointed out HCC was the highways authority and district councillors will discuss its petition at their full meeting in October.
The verderers said they had advocated average speed cameras to the police and PCC and believed they would “reduce the number of accidents on this road involving stock”.