Petworth town councillors have been forced to go back to the drawing board in their fight against town centre lorry congestion after being told a survey would cost nearly £140,000.
Now they are investigating whether a do-it-yourself option will produce evidence that the situation is worsening in a way acceptable to highways engineers.
They decided to take a fresh at heavy vehicle congestion after new concerns were voiced that signage barring them from using the town centre unless they were delivering, was not effective.
Now town councillors say even when they call on police when large lorries get stuck they are ‘not interested’ in helping out.
Chairman Chris Kemp said West Sussex County Council’s new highways manager would take action if the town council could produce sound evidence the lorry nightmare was increasing.
But he told shocked town councillors he had obtained an estimate for a month long survey which came in at £137,000.
It was a costly £7,400 for a 24 hour survey tracking HGV’s between all possible routes in both directions.
“A 24 hour survey is not going to do the job,” he told a meeting of full council, “we must run it for at least a month. I think we need to go back to highways and ask for specific criteria and try and do it ourselves.
“Our biggest issue is we have to demonstrate that three per cent of lorries that shouldn’t do so, are coming through the town. Anything over 7.5 tonnes, unless it is delivering in the town, is here illegally.
“We must do number plate recognition because it gives us current and verifiable information otherwise our argument is hollow. We need evidence to put in front of West Sussex County Council and we have to find a way of doing it. We will have to spend money - but not £137,000 or even £7,400.”
Liz Singleton told fellow councillors she had contacted police recently when two lorries became jammed in the centre of Petworth: “I was struggling, but the police were not interested in coming to help get them out.”
Carrie Smith said: “The police never bother to come.”
Mr Kemp said he would invite police to speak to their meeting about ‘why they were not interested’ in enforcing the lorry ban through the town.
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