THE importance of effective signage in solving Lyme’s serious traffic chaos was expressed by members of the town council’s Town Management Committee.
Councillor Brian Larcombe told the meeting that that very day another lorry got stuck around the Guildhall corner causing massive traffic chaos in the town.
He said: “I did speak to the driver and asked him what led him to drive through Lyme. He made his delivery on the other side of town and I asked him if it was his sat nav taking him through the town.
“He said no. His next delivery was Dorchester and he decided to drive through the town. It was an articulated lorry with a trailer, the length of which ran from the traffic lights almost back to the Pilot Boat. He got it stuck and after a lot of skilful driving he got it turned around.
“The point he made, as a very experienced driver, was quite simple. He said HGV signs are not a bit of good because smaller vehicles can carry larger weights. He said you need a size restriction sign which should be no more than 30 feet and those signs do exist.”
The Mayor, Councillor Michaela Ellis, said as this incident was happening someone had approached her to say they had actually contacted West Dorset District Council and asked if they ever came to check the weights of any vehicles and they had not received a reply.
Councillor Larcombe: “I have been calling for a size restriction sign for along time. What we need is an advisory sign which says what is approaching is unsuitable for the size of their vehicle and that’s what they need to know.
“These signs have to be pursued as these drivers don’t know until they are stuck. This driver said he’s seen them in other parts of the country.”
Deputy town clerk Mark Green said that signs on any road, other than the A35, were a matter for the county council as the road authority and the manual literally contained hundreds of signs, width, weight and length restrictions and some advisory signs that indicated narrow bridges.
He said: “All sorts of things are possible but it is a matter of persuading the county council that it is appropriate to use them and finding the right place to put them. They have to be in a position which gives the driver the opportunity to turn around or choose an alternative route. If they can’t do that, the signs are pointless. I think we could find a position if that was the case.
“We can pursue it but I think we shall also require the support of the police. An advisory sign might cure 90 per cent of the problem and we would not need police support.”
Councillor Larcombe: “Lack of police presence and the reporting of incidents is not sufficient. As well as anti-social behaviour, this is another case. “Putting a sign on the B3052, the problem is you are only going to read that when you have left the roundabout coming up from Charmouth. You need to know before you get there.
“We are also getting traffic coming from the Sidmouth direction, we need to direct this through Musbury and onto the Axminster by-pass and we need a sign at Hunters Lodge saying don’t even think about coming through Lyme.”
Councillor Larcombe said they would have to speak to East Devon District Council about the problem and get Highways England to recognise it as well.
Councillor Jeff Scowen said they had to be “much more forceful and gather evidence, adding: “It’s crazy. It’s actually out of our hands and all we can do is put on more pressure than we have been doing.”
Mr Green said: “It’s not acceptable. The incident today must have tied up five or six members of staff for quite a few hours in dealing with traffic problems. From that sense it is not good.”
Councillor Stan Williams: “There’s a sign at Charlton Cross on the wrong side of the road. It’s totally inadequate and we need to be chasing them on that.”
Committee chairman John Broom said: “I don’t see why we can’t put some signs on private land.”
Councillor Scowen: “That’s a great idea. We could do it next week.”
Councillor Williams said that several weeks ago they decided to put a sign up at the Sidmouth Road park and ride (now not operational), directing people to the Charmouth Road site, but nothing had happened.
“People don’t realise there’s another park and ride at the other side of the town and last weekend we desperately needed that,” he added.
Mr Green said the matter was in hand but it had to be agreed by Highways England.