|Presentment to Verderers Court 10th Feb 2016, by Richard Deacon (shared here with his kind permission)|
Appleslade Bottom, Linwood -
The Commoners living in the hamlet of Linwood, wish to draw the Verderers' attention to recent unacceptable traffic movements, speed and accidents involving our cattle and ponies depastured on the Forest.
Problems with excessive Traffic and Hit & Run accidents in 2015.
For an unclassified and narrow single track road, passing through the village, we have been subjected to extraordinary traffic volumes as commuters seek to avoid the ever growing congestion problems on the A31, particularly at and around Poulner Hill / Picket Post.
Over an eight month period we have routinely experienced excessive peak traffic flows in the early evenings, most notably on Thursday and Friday and whenever an accident occurs on the A31, between Cadnam and Ringwood. 'Rat run' activity, travelling east, is less intense but fraught with excessive speed, particularly when driving blind into the morning sun. In summer, peak west bound homeward traffic has reached 700 movements per hour and we have recorded 576 movements in an hour in the last month.
In an 8 month period and over an 800m length of this single track road at Appleslade Bottom, we have sustained 3 Hit & Run accidents, resulting in 2 ponies destroyed and a cow knocked clean off her feet. She survived the collision with a Mercedes car, but was left cast in the middle of the road with her legs upslope. She regained her footing with help from experienced passers by. The badly damaged car was driven off unexpectedly, but pulled up when a temporary traffic light turned red. The quick thinking lady witness to the accident, ran and pulled the driver out of the car. Veterinary bills arising have still to be settled by the offender.
The day old foal lost with a broken leg last May, had clearly been dragged along the road under a vehicle. No report was received either by the Police or the Verderers.
In the first week of January, a local taxi hit and broke the leg of a chestnut gelding sustaining sufficient damage to the vehicle to leave a headlight hanging out of its seating. This taxi left the scene, collected its passengers in the village, drove back past the scene of the accident, but only made a police report within the statutory 24 hours. Fortunately, I found the distressed animal still at the roadside, phoned my local agister who quickly arrived to do the necessary dispatch.
The incidents described clearly show a worsening of the situation in Linwood whose road has even been described by one traffic policeman with some amusement - ' Oh! you mean the A31 Bypass.' There is no air of amusement amongst the Linwood residents, one of whom has surrendered, sold up and moved out of the village, citing this very issue.
We seek the Verderers intervention and help on the following issues:
For some eight years now I have endeavoured unsuccessfully, to provide appropriate signage on the Linwood Road. Despite my best efforts, there is still none between Moyles Court and Lyndhurst or Longcross. To put this in context, motorists diverting off the A31 and arriving at Godshill in similar numbers to Linwood are confronted by copious signage, a cattle grid, 30mph restriction and traffic calming measures / pinchpoints.
The time has come to put Linwood on the map, quite literally. 700 unfamiliar motorists an hour finding themselves diverted off the A31 have a need to know they are entering a village community and that livestock are likely to be on the road ahead!
It is my view that the village confines need to be delineated with suitable boundary markers such as have been erected at Breamore and Charlton All Saints on the A338. Safe, plastic wicket gate sized panels of rustic appearance need to be erected on opposing verges to identify the village limits. The usual yellow reflective signs, warning of the presence of 'Animals on the road, Day and Night' need to be deployed. A 30mph restriction within the village would be similarly appropriate.
Our local press reports this very week that 10,000 speeding motorists have been caught to date on Forest roads. Linwood too could use some of this enforcement. I have observed none to date. Recent repairs to road edges have made this rat run route safer and more attractive to speeding commuters.
Finally, It should be a punishable or even publishable offence for anyone involved in an accident with a depastured animal to leave the scene or the limits of the cattle gridded enclosure without first ensuring that a report of the incident has reached the Verderers Office. Reliance on the statutory 24 hour accident report to a local police station is hopelessly, too little, too late.
It is a nonsense that 'Out of Hours' accident notification is routed through an Edinburgh call receiver with no understanding of local terrain, place names and routes. Could the Verderers consideration be given to setting up local accident reporting stations. Reporting accuracy and response might improve the situation for injured stock and reduce the frequent 'Nothing Found' outcome. In dead mobile phone areas such as the whole of Linwood, a local volunteer reporting centre marked by a red equine silhouette posted on the roadside gate would suffice to serve the reporting needs of a passing motorist unfortunate enough to have hit an animal. I would be happy to volunteer such a service for the Linwood area.
|Richard Deacon, Linwood resident and a practising commoner, retired civil engineer with considerable experience of highway and environmental engineering. Shared with permission to this NFA page. The NFA support initiatives to reduce animal accidents and make the roads of the Forest safe.|