Driving ban to make seaside prom safer for pedestrians
PUBLISHED: 10:30 27 December 2018
Action is set to be taken to prevent vehicles from using Felixstowe promenade – and to make it illegal to drive on the walkway.
The original aim of the prom when it was built more than 100 years ago was for walking, and the right to use it has recently been extended to cyclists and mobility scooter users.
However, the two-mile prom has an official status as a public highway – and this has led to some confusion over many years, with some people believing they can take a vehicle onto it.
Last summer a car was found in the sea after driving onto the prom and then onto the beach, where it is believed to have been trying deliver or retrieve a boat.
Beach anglers also sometimes park on the prom to be close to their pitches or unload their gear.
Suffolk County Council and Suffolk Coastal District Council have been holding talks to find a way to solve the problems but to continue allowing people with legitimate reasons for being on the prom – waste collection, prom maintenance, and emergency vehicles including the Coastguard, or vehicles associated with tourism events such as the historic vehicle run – to still have access.
The new traffic regulation order will also allow control and enforcement of any vehicles who venture onto the pedestrian area illegally.
In a report to be discussed by Suffolk Coastal’s cabinet on January 2, cabinet member Carol Poulter said the proposed order was needed for the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and mobility scooters legitimately using the prom.
She said: “Felixstowe promenade is a public highway although designated as a pedestrian area but its width is sufficient for a vehicle if it gains access to travel along the promenade.
However, it could cost the county council up to £10,000 to introduce the traffic order and take about a year to complete – and the authority does not have a budget to do the work.
Instead, it is proposed that Suffolk Coastal drafts the traffic order and advertises it alongside a planned off-street parking places order, which will save a significant cost.
After the order is confirmed, signs will be placed at the three points where vehicles could technically gain access to the prom, featuring the words Pedestrian Zone, the road sign banning vehicles, and no waiting details so anyone breaking the rules can be fined.
Those needing access will be able to apply for virtual permits online from April.