Queues to West Wittering Beach have been a feature for the more than 50 years. In recent years investment in systems and staff have seen significant improvements. Now, days when the numbers of visitors would have seen regular long queues back to the A27 have diminished.
But there are still days when everyone wants to be beside the sea, and the queues are inevitable. Saturday 29 June was such a day. Classic conditions, after a long period of wet weather, a Saturday with record temperatures - the highest in June for 20 years, schools not on holiday and the extra burden of the M27 being closed for traffic going west, meant a record number of cars heading to the beach.
Busy days have caused real safety issues in the past with roads heavily congested, cars being parked on verges and residential roads blocked. Last Saturday a new traffic system was tested, a temporary Traffic Road Order (TRO) developed in coordination with West Wittering Car Park, the Highways Agency, local residents and parish council. It proved to be successful, it kept emergency routes open and stopped random parking. The car park handled more cars than ever before, larger crowds and the beach operated smoothly with no major incidents.
Days like these are unavoidable. They tend to happen when very hot temperatures are forecast and in school term time when the weekend is the only option of going to the beach. The TRO is on trial for 18 months and will be in action when big numbers of visitors to the coast are expected. This Easter was the first time it was tested in part, and despite the highest number of Easter visitors ever, with the TRO and the improved systems at the car park, queuing was relatively light.
West Wittering Beach has been attracting families for nearly 100 years, and it is a great pleasure that this natural facility can be shared by so many. The preservation of the beach would not have happened if West Wittering Estates had not been set up in 1952, to prevent the car park being developed and built on. This action contributed to the prevention of harbour side developments around Chichester Harbour. The harbour is now an area of outstanding natural beauty and is probably the least spoilt natural harbour on the South Coast.