East Budleigh residents came out in force last Friday, urging county highways chiefs to leave an “accidental” speed hump in place because it slows down speeding motorists.

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But just days after the meeting at the Rolle Arms between villagers, the county’s chief bridge engineer Nick Bott, and the cabinet member for highways Councillor Stuart Hughes, the speed hump was smoothed over.

And motorists were once again speeding through the village, blighting the lives of residents.

The “hump”, said Mr Bott, was a “mistake” by contractors who completed bridge-strengthening works over Chrtistmas.

But the hump had a remarkable effect – speeding motorists were forced to slow down to 30 mph, delighting local residents.

PCSO Chantelle Major confirmed at the meeting that police data for December showed that the average speeds were the lowest she had ever seen.

Resident Alan Hill, who lives near the bridge, said his house “shakes” when vehicles speed past, but that all that stopped at Christmas when the hump slowed down motorists.

Pub landlady Ami Bowsher-Grief said that her 15-month-old baby could sleep uninterrupted because the traffic no longer sped past the Rolle Arms.

Budleigh county councillor Christine Channon, district councillor Tom Wright and parish chairman Steve Baker had all supported the hump being left in place.

Cllr Wright said: “It is ironic that either by bad design or bad construction county highways have done something the East Budleigh community has been asking for for many years – a reduction in speed of vehicles so as to conform to the speed limit of 30mph.

“The villagers tell us that the impact on the village has been very welcome – a noticeable reduction in speed and during the night a marked reduction in traffic noise as engines are revving less.

“Suitable warning signs would give adequate advice and would be much cheaper and less disruptive than further engineering works.”

But Mr Bott said: “The issue of the surfacing is a mistake of the contractor. It should not have happened and we have to put it right.

“It is a hazard and the county council is liable. If an accident does happen the county council would be liable in court.

“It is unacceptable workmanship and we have to protect the interests of the county council.”

Councillor Hughes said perhaps they could put up electronic speeding signs to slow down vehicles or road “banding”.

Paul Bowsher-Grief of the Rolle Arms said afterwards: “The meeting didn’t go as well as we wanted – they smoothed out the hump this afternoon.

“It had been there since before Christmas and we haven’t had any problems. Now it’s gone and the speed of the traffic is again horrendous. At least they have noticed us and we will keep the pressure on.

“But I still don’t understand why they just couldn’t leave it there and install signs further up the road warning drivers that there was a bump in the road.

“They say it was dangerous – well, potholes are dangerous too and they are all over the roads.”

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