WORLD-renowned composer Andrew Lloyd Webber has written to his local parish council with concerns about a massive rise in village traffic over the last five years.
The music impresario, who created musicals such as Jesus Christ Superstar, Cats and The Phantom of the Opera, owns the Sydmonton Court estate and has written a three-page letter to Ecchinswell, Sydmonton and Bishops Green Parish Council about traffic on the C57 road from Kingsclere to Burghclere.
The letter was discussed during a parish council meeting last Wednesday, at Ecchinswell Village Hall.
Lord Lloyd-Webber had stated traffic on the road had increased 10-fold in the past five years and suggested signs alerting drivers to horse riders in the rural road.
Council chairman Tim Hall said the road was “like a raceway”.
“It’s not just the speed, but also the quantity of traffic,” he said.
Mr Hall referred to the tragic collision in August on the A34 between East and West Ilsley, in which four people died, including three children.
Lorry driver Tomasz Kroker afterwards pleaded guilty to using his mobile phone behind the wheel and was jailed for 10 years.
As a result, safety issues on the A34 had been debated in Parliament, with the possibility mooted by MPs of the A34 becoming a motorway, a move which would most likely generate further village traffic.
“Andrew Lloyd Webber wanted to highlight the problem to us and also to Kingsclere Parish Council to see if there was anything we could do,” said Mr Hall.
Speeding traffic was very difficult to control, he said, pointing out that speed traps through the village had proved a temporary solution.
“It works for a week then starts again,” said Mr Hall.
“I’ve flattened myself into the hedge with the dogs. People just race down there.”
Mr Hall had visited Lord Lloyd-Webber to discuss the issue, which had proved difficult to resolve.
Lowering the speed limit below 60mph was not possible, because not many houses fronted the road through the village – a crucial factor.
“I made Andrew Lloyd Webber aware of this and said you are screaming in a hurricane basically,” said Mr Hall.
Mr Hall said that during his visit, Lord Lloyd-Webber had expressed his great interest in the village and in supporting the parish council.
The parish council agreed to write to Kingsclere Parish Council on the issue, to investigate extra signage to alert drivers of horse riders on the C57, and to contact Hampshire county councillor Tom Thacker (Con Whitchurch and Clere).