Petworth lorry route causes online backlash

"Yet another HGV that can't read the signs around Petworth" was the caption accompanying this photo taken by a resident and posted on Twitter
"Yet another HGV that can't read the signs around Petworth" was the caption accompanying this photo taken by a resident and posted on Twitter

PETWORTH found itself at the centre of an online storm last week (January 28) after a heavy goods vehicle was criticised for not following the lorry route signs.

Even the police stepped in to ensure Petworth’s roads were kept safe.

Sussex police picked up the debate on the social media site Twitter and asked Chichester police if they were aware of what was going on.

The Chichester team said: “Will pass onto the local officers to make them aware!”

The heated exchange started after a resident took a picture of a lorry trying to make its way down Saddlers Row and uploaded it to Twitter.

Mark Purves said: “Clearly they have different road signs in Cheshire.”

UK School Holidays, based in Storrington, added: “He’ll be clogging up Storrington no doubt. A27 Arundel bypass by 2114 maybe!”

Roger Sharp wrote: “Put a by-pass around it then.”

Alan Sutton emailed the delivery firm directly: “Dear team at S Cooper. As a local chauffeur and resident I would like to bring this to your attention.

“Petworth town centre had a lorry route because of the dangers to people like me who live and work here.

“I hope you can please ask your drivers NOT to use our narrow streets as a short cut.”

The firm was quick to respond, arguing the signs were misleading.

Damian Smith from S Cooper and Sons Ltd replied: “Thank you for pulling yourself away from your busy schedule and for taking your time to bring this to our attention!

“If you care to look at the attachments you can see the driver did follow the initial diversion, as shown in the second attachment. Only when he gets to the third junction does he make a ‘stupid mistake’.

“What does he do in the heat of the moment at this junction?

“He has a delivery to make in Petworth, so foolishly he follows a sign for...‘Petworth’. Stupid, stupid man.

“Have you thought about the possibilities that maybe the signs are misleading?

In response to another tweet ‘clearly they have different road signs in Cheshire’, he said “Indeed we do. We have signs that say ‘All Routes’ and ‘No HGV’s’.

“You seem like well-connected people down there. Mixing it with the police and media, maybe you could use your might and demand the local council update the signage and drag Petworth kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

“Then surely, there would be no ‘grey area’ for stupid drivers without the benefit of local geographical knowledge to get it wrong.

“You can also sit back safe in the knowledge that you’ve helped to make Petworth, the safer, quieter idyll, you clearly deserve.”

The town’s lorry debate has now spanned some two decades.

Chairman of Petworth Town Council Ken Lintill said: “95 per cent of the lorries that used to come through Petworth, do not do so any more. The lorry route works.

“Unfortunately a number of drivers use lorry nat navs that don’t recognise the diversions.

“The only way lorries are allowed into Petworth is via Angel Street and that’s only for deliveries.

“If this driver was making a delivery to Petworth then this incident was unfortunate.

“We do have another problem where drivers are given a ‘Petworth ‘address which turns out to be somewhere else such as Duncton, Egdean, Byworth and other places closeby.”