Tighter restrictions considered at Headley Ford
Drivers flouting ban risking lives
Hampshire County Council is considering tighter restrictions at Headley Ford, as motorists continue to risk lives by driving through the ford, flouting a legal ruling made over a year ago.
Middlesex judge Jonathan Gammon was swept away and drowned at the Thornford Road ford following flash floods in April 2012 after following satnav instructions.
The ford was closed following an inquest into Mr Gammon’s death in October 2012 and remains shut to traffic – except for local access – following a prohibition of driving order, made on December 16, 2014.
This week a county council spokesperson said: “Following incidents of people driving through Thornford Road in violation of the new traffic regulation order and becoming stranded in the ford, Hampshire County Council is investigating further restricting use of the ford to agricultural vehicles only, with access maintained for non-motorised users.”
A 20-strong group of villagers recently met the county council’s head of highways, Adrian Gray, at the ford to discuss the issue.
Villager, Simon Hiscock, was among several farmers who turned up and he said some residents wanted the ford to become a permanent no-through road.
The meeting included a discussion on more prominent warning signs at the Headley crossroads on the Hampshire side and also at the T-junction on the West Berkshire side.
Mr Hiscock said: “Locals say, if it’s that bad, why can't we have a key and lock it?
“You can’t take the average car through water deeper than six inches – even a puddle can seize a car up on some makes – so it’s bizarre they think they can drive through a ford.
“We turn around even in the Land Rover at times.”
While criticising drivers for wasting public money and endangering lives elsewhere by calling out emergency services, to rescue them from the ford, Mr Hiscock said he did not want to see the ford permanently closed.
He said: “Why should it be turned into a no-through mess, it will encourage fly-tipping.”
He added that the issue should have been thrashed out at a public meeting in the village.
Mr Hiscock pointed out dangers posed by different river bed levels at the ford, ranging from a depth of just over one foot at the sides, to the centre, where currents were fast-flowing and the river bed drops suddenly away to a depth of three feet.
Parish councillors also recently pointed out it was one of the most dangerous fords in the south of England to cross.