Should massive lorries be banned from Sidmouth centre?

Sidmouth's Fore Street shops

Sidmouth's Fore Street shops - Credit: Archant

An out-of-town distribution centre could be the solution to prevent massive vehicles damaging Sidmouth’s pavements and creating further trip hazards.

Town councillors were told that any attempt to ban trucks weighing up to 35 tonnes was doomed to failure, but their loads could be transferred to smaller wagons.

But Monday’s meeting heard that further research is needed to understand how businesses take deliveries and whether they could be timed so everyone benefits.

Councillor Jeff Turner said: “We’ve discussed this an interminable number of times. Trying to get traders to get their deliveries earlier won’t work – you can never enforce it.

“Once a delivery driver has a schedule to meet, he wants to get out of town as soon as possible. Police would need to be there 24 hours a day to prevent vehicles going on the pavement.”

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He recalled having to step into a shop doorway after a lorry mounted the pavement to pass an HGV – an anecdote that chimed with other members.

Cllr Ian Barlow said Fore Street is too narrow and the delivery lorries should be asked to park up the High Street.

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The debate was sparked by Devon County Council’s plans to replace a stretch of paving slabs that had been damaged by lorries with tarmac. Cllr Kelvin Dent said: “I’m not sure the county council has its priorities right here.

“The vehicles are too big. We should look at an order to restrict the size of vehicles in the town.”

Cllr Stuart Hughes, Devon’s highways chief, replied that the haulage society would inevitably object to a ban on large vehicles, adding: “It wouldn’t have any chance of getting through at all.”

Cllr Louise Cole is involved in the Neighbourhood Plan and questioned why it had to be completed before the long-promised traffic management plan (TMP) could be drawn up. She said it was necessary to understand how town centre businesses use the roads and receive deliveries before any major decisions are made.

Cllr Hughes said a TMP was unlikely to provide the big ideas many are hoping for. He said the county council had learned from experience in Totnes, where a pressure group had rebelled against a new road system and cost the authority thousands of pounds in legal fees.

Cllr Hughes said an out-of-town distribution centre could be created so deliveries can be transferred from massive lorries into smaller vehicles.

Town clerk Christopher Holland reminded members that the agenda item was about resurfacing the pavement - not solving all of Sidmouth’s traffic problems.

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