A PETITION calling for an average speed camera to help reduce animal road deaths on Roger Penny Way has gained support from New Forest District Council.

The petition, which was set up by commoner Gilly Jones on behalf of New Forest Roads Awareness was supported by 3,557 was started after a series of animal deaths in December 2020 and January 2021 involving commoning stock on the New Forest road and called on New Forest District Council (NFDC) to “add its support to calls for the introduction of an average speed camera system on the B3078”.

The petition was discussed during the district council's full council meeting on Monday (October 11).

Speaking at the meeting Gilly Jones, who is a practicing commoner, said: "Calls for average speed cameras aren't new. Many organisations have worked with this goal for many years but I feel now is the right time for all stakeholders to work together to get the number of animal accidents reduced."

Animal road deaths 

She told councillors that Roger Penny Way was the "worst" road for animal deaths with 30 per cent of the 2020 total attributed to the road.

Work has been done to tackle speeding with patrols and tickets issued by police. But Gilly added: "This blatant disregard for the speed limit has to be dealt with before someone dies."

She also said that one of the highest speeds recorded had been 84mph and that one officer had given out 45 tickets this year. 

Fellow commoner Sarah Weston, who set up a change.org petition after the death of her pony in August, which has been supported by more than 63,000 people from across the world, added: "Our animals are living, breathing and meaningful creatures with names and owners they're not just bits of street furniture that can be replaced or compensated for."

Cllr Edward Heron, the leader of NFDC, said the council would work with the Police and Crime Commissioner, and Hampshire County Council as the highways authority, on a feasibility study.

Also read: PCC to discuss New Forest speeding and animal accidents

He said: “I am sure that all members of the council will share your concerns with regards to the unfortunate recent animal casualties along Roger Penny Way. It is clear from the petitions that have been submitted that a significant number of residents and visitors to the New Forest also share your concerns."

He put forward a motion for the council to support the campaign.

Cllr David Harrison questioned whether this was the best solution and that this would only be for one road when there were others.

However, Cllr Sue Bennison said other measures had been tried in the past but had not been successful and described the road as a "death trap".

Cllr Ann Sevier, who represents Fordingbridge and is also commoner, said she had seen the "horrendous" speeds along that road and had lost four animals.

And Cllr Allan Glass told the meeting if it worked the cameras could be put in other areas.

PCC support 

The county's police and crime commissioner (PCC) has also agreed to support a feasibility study.

PCC Donna Jones added: “In relation to Roger Penny Way, I very much share residents’ concerns about speeding in the New Forest and animal casualties. I am pleased to support a feasibility study into the potential use of average speed cameras for Roger Penny Way. There have been a number of animal deaths on the route in recent times. This loss of life is senseless and devastating for the animal owners.

“The New Forest is defined not only by the beautiful landscape, but also by the animals that roam the area and we should all work together to protect it. I would urge all drivers to drive with great care in the New Forest, especially as the nights draw in and visibility reduces.”

Verderers welcome support

This support has also been welcomed by the Verderers of the New Forest.

Lord Manners, the Official Verderer said: “The Verderers are delighted to hear that the Hampshire PCC is supportive of a feasibility study into the possibility of average speed cameras on the Roger Penny Way. We believe that the installation of such cameras would achieve a significant reduction in the number of animal casualties on this road.”

District councillors vote to support petition

The full council agreed to support the petition.

The meeting heard a working group would be set up and a report on the next steps will be brought to a future NFDC Cabinet meeting.

Reacting to yesterday's meeting, Gilly said she was "overwhelmed and shellshocked" by the support and added: "It is brilliant, it's one more hoop we have to jump through. We're not quite there yet."

"This is many years of work by many different agencies," said Gilly.

"It is definitely one massive step."

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