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Winchelsea Speed Watch

What we have done

For some years, we have lobbied the police for traffic enforcement and the County Council for traffic calming. However, the lack of a serious accident history means that we do not qualify for assistance from the limited budgets devoted to traffic policing and traffic calming.

Fortunately, the police eventually offered us a self-help solution in the form of Community Speed Watch. This is a police-sponsored scheme in which volunteers monitor traffic, using laser speed meters. The police provide a risk assessment, training and insurance. Speeding drivers are reported to the police, who send warning letters and then target repeat offenders for prosecution (only the police can actually book a driver for an offence). The scheme has been very successful in other counties and in the East Sussex pilot scheme at Ringmer.

On 20th May 2008, our group started to operate a Community Speed Watch scheme in Winchelsea, only the second one in the county. It quickly made an impression on traffic.

However, setting up Community Speed Watch was not easy. Indeed, it took five years of effort by the community. We originally applied in 2003. Unfortunately, our application was delayed, first, by an assessment of the lessons of the Ringmer pilot scheme, and then, by the refusal of Icklesham Parish Council, in April 2005, to provide a letter supporting Winchelsea's membership. Despite support from all three elected Winchelsea ward councillors and the local police, councillors from the other wards of the parish (apparently concerned that they might have to organise something in their wards) voted against the request. We had to wait six months, until October 2005, before we were able to repeat the request. In the face of a petition signed by over 150 residents, the Parish Council gave way. Unfortunately, the delay meant that our application was pre-empted by a national review of the Community Speed Watch scheme by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), during which time, all new applications were frozen.

To our surprise and delight, in early 2007, Sussex Police decided to re-activate the Community Speed Watch in the county without waiting for the ACPO review. Winchelsea's application was approved in September 2007. Icklesham Parish Council very grudgingly confirmed their support, but refused to contribute any money towards the cost of buying a speed meter. Instead, we raised the money from police grants and donations by residents. 

Meanwhile, back in Icklesham Parish Council, councillors from two of the wards that had voted against supporting Community Speed Watch in Winchelsea have been repeatedly pressed by residents to get something done about speeding traffic in their villages. In response, the Council wrote a letter to the County Council and got the standard response --- that their roads did not have an accident history that would qualify them for traffic-calming. No further action has been taken or is contemplated.

During the time that Community Speed Watch was being reviewed by ACPO, in order to demonstrate the strength of Winchelsea's commitment, we undertook our own traffic survey for the week starting 27th February 2006, using a hired speed gun. This was highly productive. It not only demonstrated our ability to mobilise a large number of volunteers, but the results of the survey gave us an invaluable insight into the nature of our traffic problem. Moreover, by observing traffic at close quarters for several hours a day over a week, we started to piece together some practical solutions. The data from our survey was confirmed by an automatic radar survey undertaken by the County Council in 2008.

In February 2007, we took the opportunity to borrow a mobile speed indicator device (SID) from East Sussex County Council in order to conduct periodic speed monitoring exercises. Unlike Community Speed Watch, SID monitoring does not record the registration numbers of speeding drivers but tries to encourage them to slow down by displaying their speed to them. These SID's are largely a waste of time. However, in 2010, we plan to start periodically borrowing the new "intelligent" SID from the local Neighbourhood Police Team at Rye. This device records traffic numbers and speeds.

In 2007, we managed to pursuade the parish council agreed to pay for a feasibility study by the County Council of a vehicle activated sign (VAS) --- which is simply a fixed SID --- on Monks Walk, but we are still waiting for this promise to be converted into action. If the County Council approves the site, we will be asking the parish council to finance the VAS itself (as they have done at Etchingham).

We have also asked the Highways Agency to install a VAS on the A259(T), outside the village hall, which they have committed to do, provided conservation issues can be resolved. We are also looking to the Winchelsea Town Plan to propose a comprehensive traffic scheme.

Who we are | Winchelsea's traffic problem

speed sign
Speed Indicator Device deployed in Winchelsea

Winchelsea Speed Watch volunteers
Winchelsea Speed Watch volunteers

Community Speed Watch

To learn more about this scheme, read our background note. We are happy to make our experience available to other villages.

Our accounts todate are:




CSW set-up costs


police grants


other costs


residents donations


    other income