Trip pensioner’s horrific injuries in Lewes

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A HARROWING personal story has emerged in the wake of criticism of the dangers posed to pedestrians by the speed bumps in Railway Lane, Lewes.

Lewes Town Councillor Petrina Kingham highlighted the hazard earlier this year and invited those who had tripped and injured themselves at the site to contact her.

One such person was local resident Joan Briggs, a pensioner. Cllr Kingham said: “When Joan fell over one of the speed bumps in Railway Lane her life changed beyond recognition.

“When I met her she had metal plates in her left leg from a broken tibia, her face was bruised from a head wound and she was more or less immobile. Clearly this lady had suffered a shocking list of injuries.

“Her lovely husband was providing the majority of her care and their house had to be adapted to accommodate the fact Joan could not go upstairs.”

Cllr Kingham said Joan, of Malling, did not see the rise of the speed bumps because the nature and colour of the cobbles made it look as though the area was level.

In late February Cllr Kingham appealed to East Sussex County Council officers at a Traffic Working Party meeting, specifically identifying Joan’s injuries and asking for an assessment of the area. The county responded, she said, by stating that because the speed bumps are on a highway its legal duty is limited to ensuring “the highway is secure and not dangerous”.

Cllr Kingham, who works as a defendant civil litigator, believes this is a cynical use of the law; the speed bumps causing the injuries are in a clearly marked pedestrian zone.

When Cllr Kingham and Cllr Ruth O’Keeffe visited Railway Lane on Saturday it was clear that the cobbles remain in a dangerous state.

Cllr Kingham said: “The county has even failed to fulfil what it states is the limit of its legal duty. It says there are more important priorities elsewhere.

“I want a representative to visit Joan Briggs and explain this to her. The council has shown no interest in her, the cause of her injuries or the major impact it has had on her and her family’s lives. It is utterly disgraceful.”

Cllr Kingham added: “These are not scrapes and bruises, these are life-changing injuries. This carnage cannot continue.

“I will be formally calling on fellow Town Councillors to support a motion calling for the county council to undertake a complete risk assessment of this area in full consultation with the affected community groups.

Cllr O’Keeffe said: “Concerns have been raised with me more than once about the uneven nature of the Railway Lane area and the strange illusion that the speed bumps are level, causing people to trip and fall there.   

“I would support action by the whole Town Council calling for East Sussex County Council to undertake a thorough risk assessment of Railway Lane especially in view of the fact there is a sign designating the area a pedestrian one.  The cobbled surface is very pedestrian-unfriendly.

“My personal opinion is that, following the assessment, work should begin as soon as possible to make this area safe.  It is a matter of public record that people have been injured by falling there, some of them seriously.” 

Residents are being invited to sign a petition backing the safety campaign which will be on the noticeboard at The Riverside, Cliffe Precinct, from tomorrow (Saturday).

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To pledge support or report an accident, contact Cllr Kingham

at trinawyn@aol.com

Mark Valleley, Team Manager for Infrastructure Design and Delivery at East Sussex County Council, said: “We are sorry to hear of Mrs Briggs’ fall in Railway Lane and about the injuries she sustained.

“The speed humps are there to make sure drivers keep their speed down as they approach the Cliffe High Street pedestrian zone and help prevent traffic accidents.

“We have recently painted additional markings on the speed humps to make them more visible to pedestrians and we are currently looking at what additional steps could be taken to improve conditions for people crossing the road in this area.”