Haywards Heathens

South Road sinkhole disrupts A272 traffic after railing removal

South Road sinkhole disrupts A272 traffic after railing removalA sinkhole in the pavement on South Road near the Sussex roundabout will cause significant disruption to A272 traffic for an undetermined period of time.

Contractors removing safety railings in Haywards Heath last Tuesday reported the defect to West Sussex Highways and believe the erosion to have been revealed by a vehicle parking on the pavement. The cause, at least in part, is due to a water leak which has now been fixed by South East Water.

A video by the Mid Sussex Times on Thursday shows a large cavity with running water underneath the pavement and the main road. Workman said if this was not a culvert underneath the road, then there would be a significant impact on traffic in the town and travel on the A272.

Having fixed the leak, South East Water says two-way traffic lights will operate during peak time due to safety concerns for the public and contractors working on a permanent fix. The pedestrian crossing between the 99p Store and the Cook shop is out of action.

Meanwhile, Rocky Lane residents are being asked whether to permit longer working hours so that the Haywards Heath Bypass could open 12 months ahead of schedule. The bypass will relocate A272 traffic along Rocky Lane instead of South Road. And where we say "ahead of schedule", we do of course mean ahead of the latest revised schedule as the bypass should have been completed many years ago.

As for the removal of the railings, this has been a contentious issue for residents. Haywards Heath Town Council decided to remove most of the railings as part of a decluttering and greening exercise.

However, some residents have voiced opposition to the move, many citing safety concerns. The comments gives the impression that Haywards Heath is full of suicidal pedestrians and homicidal motorists.

One person questioned where the flowers on the railings would be put and some said money removing the railings is a waste. One event organiser was upset when their council approved advertising banner disappeared along with the railings.

In this Heathen's view, Haywards Heath did seem to have too many railings and the ongoing cost of replacing them when damaged and beautifying them with flowers must surely outweigh the cost of one-time removal. One Haywards Heath resident who oversaw the removal of railings in London, told Haywards Heathens that in some circumstances safety railings have the opposite effect of saving lives as people can be crushed against them. Deputy Town Mayor Stephen Hillier took to Facebook to defend the removal of the safety railings saying removal in other countries and areas actually reduced traffic speeds as drivers were more safety conscious and aware when driving through town centres without them.

As for critics who might cite the incident of the woman getting knocked down outside KFC on Wednesday as a reason for putting them back, one should first remember that there have never been any railings on that stretch, and appears to be an unfortunate accident which just so happened to coincide with the removal of railings in the town the previous day.

Hopefully the Council has arranged to resurface the pavements which look a bit unsightly with the post holes newly filled in, and will take heed of comments that the safety railings that do remain should be painted to make them a little less depressing.

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