Farmers stress need for tractors to drive through Chichester city centre after complaints

Farmers have argued that there is ‘a real need’ for tractors and other farm vehicles to drive through Chichester city centre using its ring road, after concerns were raised by residents.

Mark Chandler, West Sussex NFU Chairman, on his farm, Moor Farm, in Petworth, West Sussex. Photo by Scott Ramsey
Mark Chandler, West Sussex NFU Chairman, on his farm, Moor Farm, in Petworth, West Sussex. Photo by Scott Ramsey

A discussion over the issue took place between Chichester City Council, the National Farmers’ Union, Sussex Police and West Sussex County Council’s highways department.

The city council requested the meeting following a serious accident between a cyclist and tractor trailer, along with ‘several complaints from residents concerned about safety and disturbance’ and ‘a perception of more movement of tractors and trailers through the residential areas’.

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The aim of the meeting, which was held online, was to provide for better understanding and communication over the issue.

West Sussex NFU chairman Mark Chandler, of Petworth, said: “We emphasised that there is a real need for farm vehicles to access Chichester as the city is at a crossroads for coast and countryside, and farmers need to go about their business of producing our food.

“Access is vital, particularly during peak times when crops are being harvested and fresh produce needs to be sent on its way to supermarkets and processors.”

To the south of Chichester lies the coastal plain with its productive farmland and England’s largest area of glasshouses, many of which grow protected edible crops.

Inland, north of the city, there are more mixed farming enterprises, with arable crops, cattle and sheep, particularly on the edge of the South Downs and within the western Weald.

Mr Chandler pointed out that today’s tractors, while designed for off-road use, are more high-tech than the average family car, with numerous safety features.

These include set speeds for road driving and some models feature automated systems to ensure that when a tractor slows down, if it is towing a trailer, the trailer automatically decelerates as well at the same rate.

Councillor Richard Plowman, the mayor of Chichester, who chaired the meeting, said: “I would like to thank the NFU and all those who took part and feel we achieved the aim of a better understanding of the need for farm vehicle movements in the city centre and around the city’s ring road.”