Sat-nav plan is backed to stop menace of lorries in Midhurst

A CAMPAIGN to wipe out the menace of sat-nav in the historic centre of Midhurst has been backed by town councillors.

A pressure group headed by the Midhurst Society and John Trueman, editor of the online town promotion service Midhurst Pages, wants bold black and yellow signs installed at the entrances to the old town warning drivers not to follow their sat-nav systems.

They say recently-installed width restriction signs need back-up warnings until sat-nav companies update their instructions.

Chairman of the Midhurst Society Sheila Ryan took the campaign to the last meeting West Sussex County Council’s (WSCC) county local committee asking for support.

But chairman Michael Brown told her to go back to the town council whose support would ‘immeasurably strengthen’ her plea.

Town councillors have in the past opposed schemes which bring more signage to the town.

But after looking at the campaign proposals vice chairman John Quilter told fellow town councillors he believed they merited their support.

“I don’t want to see the town cluttered with signs. But in this case I agree it is necessary, provided this isn’t the start of lots of them in the town.”

He said there were problems created by large lorries negotiating the narrow streets of the old town particularly on the corner of the Swan pub and the Spread Eagle.

“I think we should try these proposals as a trial.

“It gives us time to work with the sat-nav companies. It is quite likely that many drivers will ignore the width restrictions sadly and so this is a very sensible thing to do.

“I would be in favour of saying we support the signs on the basis that it is a two years trial period which we can then review.”

Steve Morley asked town councillors if an earlier suggestion to put pinch points in the area were no longer being considered.

“It is not just the lorries, it is also the speed of the cars that is a problem,” he said

David Coote told the meeting he believed the sign warning drivers not to follow their sat-navs through Midhurst old town should be supported: I think this is a very sensible and low cost solution.”

The Rev Coote said he did not believe pinch points were the answer: “They won’t actually stop people turning into the road in the first place.”

Cllr Brown, who attended the town council meeting in the place of Midhurst’s WSCC representative Nola Hendon assured members the county local committee would support the campaign.

“I promise you we will fully endorse the proposal and I personally will do what I can from within West Sussex County Council to see that the signs are installed as soon as possible.”

Ideally, he told town councillors, this would be as soon as road works to enhance the historic care of the town, were completed.

The work is due to start in February next year.