‘It’s a complete farce’ – new camera at Southbourne level crossing sparks land dispute

The Red Light Safety Equipment camera by the level crossing
The Red Light Safety Equipment camera by the level crossing

A landowner has said work to install a camera at Southbourne level crossing has left the boundary of his land in question.

Mike McGuigan, who lives in Monkton, said Network Rail had installed the Red Light Safety Equipment camera on part of the land he owns in Inlands Road, instead of on the highway.

Mr McGuigan said the camera is located on his land

Mr McGuigan said the camera is located on his land

Not only has this left in doubt the official boundary of his land, which measures a sixth of an acre, but it means the company cannot acquire the appropriate license to actually use the camera, which is intended to capture evidence of motorists failing to stop at the lights.

Mr McGuigan said the situation was a ‘complete farce’. “Why has it ended up in such a mess?” he said.

Mr Guigan bought the piece of land 35 years ago. He described it as a ‘beautiful’ orchard which he occasionally used for a weekend retreat with his wife and children, during which he would also go sailing on his yacht.

His first contact with Network Rail over the issue was when they asked him to cut back his hedge, so it would not obscure the proposed camera.

He said he had ‘no problem’ doing so and did not object to the camera being installed.

The road was ‘rat run’ he said, adding: “The camera is necessary. People should realise that this camera will catch them out if they continue their old habits of rushing the lights,”

But when he visited the site he found that one of the trees in the hedge had been removed and a ‘huge concrete’ block, as well as cables and a control box, had been put in its place.

Mr McGuigan said Network Rail had ‘overstepped the mark’ – but said he would allow it as long as they confirmed that he owned the land.

“I wouldn’t query where the boundary was with them, as long as they wouldn’t query where it was with me,” he said.

He was promised a certificate B which would have ‘normalised’ the situation by formally stating he owned the land.

However he never received one, leaving him feeling as though he is being denied his ownership rights.

“It’s been confirmed it is my land, but I need it in writing,” he said. “I’ve worked hard not to have a dispute, but I’ve ended up having one.”

Mr McGuigan said that when Network Rail applied to West Sussex County Council for a license to use the camera, the county council said it was unable to issue one because no part of the camera was situated on the highway.

He said the situation had become complicated ‘for no real reason whatsoever’ and said he wanted everyone to get round the table and find a ‘sensible solution’.

A West Sussex County Council spokesperson confirmed that the equipment in question was not situated on the highway and said it was unable to comment further.

A Network Rail spokesperson said: “The camera concerned at Inlands Road, Southbourne is Red Light Safety Equipment (RLSE) which captures evidence of road vehicles failing to stop at red lights at level crossings to improve safety.

“Network Rail acknowledges that this particular camera was partially installed on privately owned land and believed an acceptable resolution had been agreed with the landowner which satisfied both parties.

“We are working with the landowner and Chichester District Council and are currently reviewing the options to resolve this matter.”

Chichester District Council has also been approached for a comment.

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