It comes in the wake of the horrific accident last month in which a car and a young racehorse were in collision in Marshfield Lane. The horse lost a leg in the impact and ran around in agony on just three legs for some time until a local farmer called in a specialist to put him down.
However, some local residents say the police are not monitoring traffic speeds at peak times when many vehicles, coming through the lanes to avoid the closure of the A431 at Kelston because of a landslip, are still travelling way too fast. And people living in Beach and the Golden Valley say that more motorists are now haring through their communities where there is an unrestricted limit.
A Beach resident told us: “The problem is that to avoid the 20mph police enforced speed limit along the Marshfield Lane and down through Upton, the traffic is turning right into Beach Lane as from this point on there are unrestricted signs. This lane passes through Beach and is very narrow, with sharp bends and dangerous. Due to the unrestricted speed signs, some motorists are travelling fast and become abusive when asked to slow down.
“This stretch of lane is used extensively for recreational purposes e.g. horse riders, ramblers, biking and youngsters on ponies, who regularly ride past our house. If this unrestricted speed limit remains in place, it is clear that during the coming summer months with longer days and an increase in leisure activities another serious accident will happen.
“The Girl Guides have a campsite at Briarlands in Beach and this site is also extensively used by Scouts and schools with children camping and exploring the local footpaths in small groups with maps; the safety of these young people walking through the windy, narrow lanes needs to be taken into account when decisions are made regarding the speed limit through the lanes.
Talking about the lanes in Beach, Upton and Bitton being used as a rat run, the author and broadcaster Bel Mooney, who lives in Golden Valley Lane, said: “We’ve counted 50 cars during a period when you’d normally encounter, say three.
“Already one horse has been killed, and I fear a human fatality sooner or later – and then dread to think how long it would take for an ambulance to get to these parts, unable to come direct from the Royal United Hospital.”
Meanwhile in Upton Cheyney, local residents, including Kay Ross, say drivers are still ignoring the 20mph signs, despite the police speed traps, and that many motorists do not understand country lanes or the country code for horses and pedestrians and “just plough on regardless”.
She contacted South Gloucestershire Council’s highways department with her concerns about the state of Marshfield Lane, which she said had been churned up, adding: “Over twice as many passing places as have existed for years have been made in the last three months. They are rapidly eating away the banks, hedges and roadside and making the road surface lethal in places”.
She got a reply from senior highways maintenance engineer Dan Taylor who agreed with her analogy of the road “looking like the Somme”. “The mud build-up and also the verges being run by vehicles are very bad. The knock-on effect of this is that the drainage systems are blocked, which makes the situation much worse and accelerates the deterioration of the road,” he said.
The council is planning to close the road temporarily from 12th May. Mr Taylor said: “This should give us the opportunity to address a lot of the problems that we cannot attend to at the moment with live traffic.”
He said there would then be a “significant improvement in the condition of the road”.
The A431 has been closed since February and experts will not be able to recommend the best way of sorting out the road – and crucially how long it will take – until results from borehole tests, are known later this month. So far the estimated cost of sorting out the road is at least £500,000 and it is set to be closed until at least September.
The owner of the Kelston Park estate, Andrew Brownsword, has already allowed a coring rig to be installed on his land (see above) as part of investigation works into the landslip, and there are hopes that he may also consider a temporary route across his land.
Meanwhile local businesses who are being badly affected by the road closure have come together to form an action group called BUSK (Bitton, Upton Cheyney, Swineford & Kelston). Among the members are the Upton Inn, Bath Ales (The Swan at Swineford), Butcombe Brewery (The Old Crown at Kelston), Manor Farm shop and the chilli company in Upton.