HELEN BURTON: The challenges of village’s road closure

Helen Burton SUS-160113-100959001
Helen Burton SUS-160113-100959001

Today as I write this (November 1st), marks the start of a road closure in Pevensey Bay which will effectively cut the village in half.

Residents like myself who live on the ‘wrong’ side of the road closure in Coast Road will be cut off from the main part of the village. Instead of it taking five minutes from my estate to get to the shops in the village (or anywhere else) it will now be at least 20 minutes on a good day and more like half an hour at busy times. We will now have to go along a long, winding road with no street lighting, a poor road surface and cross a railway line which is one of the old fashioned types where, with no visibility on one side you have to edge out to cross the line and hope there is no train coming.

The road is being closed in several stages in order to repair a gas pipe. The work has to be done, but of course the road closure will be incredibly disruptive for the duration of the work.

Pevensey Parish Council has been liaising between SGN the gas network, ESCC, bus services, emergency services and waste contractors to check that residents are still served but it hasn’t been easy. SGN has been very slow to let residents know what is happening, although after a very chaotic information drop-in they seemed to get a better understanding of what residents need and are now communicating more effectively.

There is a bit of ‘blitz spirit’ evolving in the village which feels like it could be the start of something exciting. People are rallying to make sure that no-one is cut off and that everyone has what they need.

I attended one meeting of volunteers from the Pevensey Senior Support Group and the Monday RVS lunch club. The meeting had been called to discuss how the groups can deal with the road closure as both groups use Ethel Wood Hall in Coast Rd to provide their service to the elderly residents of Pevensey.

For many elderly people these groups are their only social contact, and the job they do in providing lunch, support and a chance to chat with their friends is vital. I was concerned that the groups may have to close for the duration of the road closure, which could be a devastating blow to members of the clubs. Several possibilities were discussed, but a plan evolved which means both clubs can carry on as usual, using local volunteer drivers and the Pevensey Community Support Bus.

I was so impressed by the rallying spirit of all of the volunteers, and the way our community is pulling together during this difficult time.

If you can help in any way, then please do get in touch. Although Cuckmere Community Buses will be providing a shuttle during the road closure, transport is still likely to be an issue, so if you are able to offer transport in emergency situations please also let me know as more back up plans may evolve around this. pevenseyvolunteers@gmail.com