Bureaucrats blasted in Midhurst road signing row

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MIDHURST town councillors have blasted the Highways Agency for failing to support their campaign to reinstate signs to the town from the Hindhead tunnel on the A3.

They have been fighting ever since Midhurst found itself wiped off the tourist map after the opening of the long-awaited tunnel in July 2011.

But despite the latest setback they have decided to continue their fight and demand signs from the A3 Milford junction further north of the tunnel.

Travellers coming south used to pick up signs to Midhurst at the infamous Hindhead traffic lights on the old A3 but, since the opening of the tunnel, the stretch of road has been bypassed. Now the first signs do not appear until the Ham Barn roundabout at Liss and take motorists even further south to Petersfield and along the A272.

On Monday town councillors received a letter sent from the Highways Agency to their MP Andrew Tyrie.

Highways Agency asset delivery manager Simon Duke said: “Under current Department for Transport policy we are unable to sign Midhurst as a forward destination on the A3 as it is not deemed to be a primary route destination.

“The policy defines a tourist destination as a permanently established attraction or facility such as a museum, historic building, park or garden. The definition does not extend to towns. I regret we are unable to consider the provision of tourist signing for Midhurst.”

Town council John Quilter said: “This is profoundly disappointing and we should not accept it.

“It is unacceptable and unhelpful – not just the decision but the way it is framed, the language and the complete lack of understanding of the situation.

“It is typical of a bureaucrat sitting in an office who hasn’t got a clue what is going on elsewhere.”

Mr Quilter also rapped the Highways Agency for ‘inconsistency’, saying the market town of Masham in Yorkshire had been bypassed by the A1M, but signs to it had been reinstated by the agency.

Town councillors are to follow up a proposal from senior councillor Colin Hughes to ask for signs from the Milford junction, where he said the bulk of motorists would want to leave the A3 for Midhurst and Haslemere.