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Residents demand Hampshire County Council stops 'highly dangerous' Sway Road HGV bridge limit trial

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THE lifting of weight restrictions on a Brockenhurst bridge has been branded “highly dangerous” by angry residents.

They claimed that since the 7.5-tonne limit was removed by Hampshire County Council from Sway Road bridge in February for a six-month trial, more HGVs have been travelling into the village.

Residents spoke out on Tuesday night at a meeting of the parish council which pledged to support their cause – although, in a statement later, HCC said the idea had been originally pushed by parish councillors.

Residents spoke out at a meeting of the parish council
Residents spoke out at a meeting of the parish council

At the meeting Camilla Pearse, from environmental group Greener Brockenhurst, said: “Allowing unrestricted access to HGVs makes Sway Road a highly dangerous road to cycle along, or indeed to cross on foot.

“Ponies, donkeys and cattle freely roam on this road and, when they are found on or near the bridge where the road narrows – which they often are – it would be extremely dangerous for a large HGV to try and squeeze past them.”

She was joined by representatives of Brockenhurst Primary School’s Parent Teacher Association and the Friends of Brockenhurst.

HCC leader Cllr Keith Mans, who is the member for Brockenhurst, was at the meeting but did not comment.

Some HGVs already use Sway Road to serve Meadens garage which, dealer principle Tom Sexton told the A&T, they have done since it first opened in the 1940s.

However, when they delivered before the bridge weight limit was removed, they did not travel down the rest of the road to go over the crossing but instead turned around at The Rise nearby.

Mr Sexton stressed Meadens had less than two deliveries a week, outside of peak hours and it took “seconds” for the transporters to turn around at The Rise.

“It seems we have been caught in the middle of a dispute between various residents, groups and councils,” he added.

“We are, and have always been, open to discussions with regards to any concerns the local residents might have.”

Sway Road bridge near Brockenhurst (picture: Google)
Sway Road bridge near Brockenhurst (picture: Google)

Critics said that using the Sway Road bridge means more HGVs travel past Brockenhurst Primary School.

They also warned the route was too narrow, had few pavements, and livestock, pedestrians, schoolchildren and cyclists were at risk.

At the parish council meeting, residents complained to councillors that Meadens transporters often park on and block Sway Road pavements.

Calling for the weight restriction to be reimposed, they said the changes did not serve HCC’s goal of more sustainable transport.

They said more HGVs increased air pollution and undermined efforts to make Brockenhurst “a tourist destination of choice”.

Parish councillor Pete Wales said HCC lifted the restrictions without telling anyone as a “traffic experiment” for six months.

A consultation exercise was taking place, he said, after which the idea would either be discontinued or carried on for another year before a final decision.

Parish council chair Cllr Michael Harris told residents they were “pushing at an open door”, and Cllr Wales pledged members would write to HCC to call on it to “cease” the experiment.

In response, Cllr Nick Adams-King, HCC cabinet member for highways operations, said: “We agreed to suspend the 7.5-tonne weight limit for a trial period of six months at the request of Brockenhurst Parish Council, following concerns about car transporters turning in the junction of The Rise to access the local car dealership.

"Lifting the weight restriction means that the transporters can now travel southbound on Sway Road and cross the rail bridge, avoiding the need to turn at the junction.

“The experimental traffic regulation order allows for the trial to remain in place for (up to) a further 12 months, if necessary, allowing time for a formal decision to be made on whether or not to make it permanent, and for any necessary sign amendments to be designed and planned.

"However, if it is not made permanent the weight restriction will be brought back into force.

“We will continue to work with the parish council throughout this process, they having been the instigator of the change.”

Comments can be submitted before the end of August by emailing public.notices@hants.gov.uk and quoting reference A1057/MB.

For more information, visit www.hants.gov.uk/community/publicnotices/publicnoticedetails?id=12252

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