Let me say first, please, that I am greatly in favour of the 20mph speed limit which will come into force later this year in the centre of Lewes. But let me say too, that it is enabled by the fact that the average speed limit presently obtained in the town centre is only 24 mph, and this means that no speed bumps will be needed. It has been agreed by the County Council and funded in part by the Town Council. I mention these facts because you may have been misled into thinking it was all down to the District Council, which has no statutory responsibility for highways. But LDC has had a lot of publicity about its support for the scheme, and I was bold enough to ask why it made such a fuss if had no power to bring it about. Here is what I was told, by a senior officer, "LDC is a democratically elected body representing the people of Lewes District and can express support for any initiative which it thinks will improve conditions for local people. It is not limited to matters for which it has statutory responsibility." The part of the question which asked why it could do that whilst not managing to cut back those roadside verges for which it does have responsibility; and a second question about the amount of financial support LDC was offering towards the scheme, remain unanswered.
I see it pretty much as hot air from all parties involved, however, along with the 'warning' notices of the need to remember the speed limit on the Brighton Road, and the prospect of such notices being posted on the Offham and Neville Roads. And that is because there will be, as far as I know, no enforcement of these limits. On the outer roads, motorists are expected to be aware that the close spacing of the lamp standards signifies an urban area and they should know the speed limit is 30mph. In my experience, motorists, lorry drivers and bus drivers are blind to such niceties. I have been on buses which reach 50mph between the prison bus stop and that at Southdown Avenue. I am convinced we must have enforcement.
I need your indulgence for this item as well, if I may crave it. Along with Ruth O'Keeffe, John Vyse and Cindy Holmes, I have been doing my best to cultivate the little gardens by the magistrates' court. One bed was doing quite well. Begonias, pinks, and some seventy petunias, ready to flower in red white and blue. Sunday they passed inspection, Tuesday morning I discovered that someone had emptied the contents of about three domestic vacuum cleaner bags over the lot, smothering the majority of the young plants and quite destroying the effect. A republican perhaps? But these beds are in a central position and had begun to attract compliments. We've salvaged some other plants and still hope to make a summer display, though I regret it will not be what I had hoped for this year.
Finally, a quick word of thanks to a hard working town council employee, Chris, the Town Ranger, who not only cleaned up and refurbished the seats in the precinct, but who has done a superb job in cleaning off the bird lime from the seats by the bus stop opposite the prison. They are now back in use, thanks to him, and the word is they may also be re-positioned under the bus shelter making them even more useful.
More than ever this week I had better say that these are only my own thoughts and must not be taken to be representative of Lewes Town Council or vivalewes.com.