Busy South London road gets ‘ducks crossing’ sign after years of residents asking – it’s in the wrong place though

Carshalton residents are fuming with Sutton Council claiming they installed a long awaited ‘animal crossing’ sign to keep ducks and swans safe in the wrong place. While the council did listen to residents and erect the signs, they have complained the current signs will not serve their purpose as one is not in a suitable location.

In recent years the Carshalton Ponds conservation area has become a roadkill hotspot for the many birds that inhabit the area. The reason for this grisly phenomenon is the busy A232 going from Sutton to Croydon, which leads thousands of commuters alongside the pond daily.

This sharp increase in bird fatalities concerned residents and animal rights activists in the local area who decided to campaign for an animal crossing sign to be erected on the side of the road. The thought behind the signs is that they will alert drivers to the nearby wildlife and encourage them to slow their speed on the 30mph road.

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Carshalton Ponds
Carshalton Ponds were recently dredged by Sutton council in an effort to desilt the water

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS), local activist Saffron Gloyne said: “For almost two-and-a-half years now there have been a small group of locals that have been campaigning furiously. There’s such a huge amount of animals that live at those ponds. Over the years we have lost swans, signets, Canada goose, moor hens and chicks of all species to car collisions. This has been quite disturbing, especially when the big birds are involved. Finally, after two years spent campaigning, the council finally agreed and put the signs up.”

Saffron, who visits the ponds regularly, told the LDRS of residents’ disappointment when they discovered one of the signs they had been campaigning for was placed incorrectly. She said: “Two are in the right place, one is in the wrong place. It’s on the wrong side of the road and it’s attached to a lamppost. There’s also no writing on it which he did promise, there’s just [a picture of] ducks.”

The group told the LDRS that, while they welcome action from the council, the signs will not adequately warn motorists of their danger to nearby ducks and swans. Gloyne said: “Either they have spent a little money and don’t feel like spending more, or there has been a mistake. I don’t think they are going to fix it, it took two-and-a-half years to get to this stage. What is the use of spending a little bit of money if it’s not going to be effective?”

“As a community, we don’t think this is a big ask. It’s not a lot of money, especially when they recently spent around £750 to dredge the pond to make it safer for the wildlife. It’s not a huge deal but they’ve pushed back so much and the fact that they have taken so long to do this is hugely disappointing. It’s another example of the council constantly ignoring local people.”

The grade two listed causeway between the ponds also gets a lot of traffic during the day
The busy road around the ponds is putting wildlife at risk and seeing a lot of roadkill
(Image: Robert Webster)

The Carshalton ponds conservation area is home to more than just bird life. It also hosts the local Honeywood museum and war memorial, which attracts visitors weekly. The Wandle river trail, which flows into the ponds, is also nearby. Saffron told the LDRS: “People are very passionate about this area.”

According to the campaign group, the council is currently coordinating with their contractor regarding a way to resolve the issue and update the signs. However, the group believes this has all come too late. Saffron said: “We shouldn’t have had to ask for this but we did and they still screwed it up. It’s already horribly congested and a scary place to drive through, when you add to that a big bird being hit you’re going to cause a lot of congestion. It’s very frequent.

“I understand it’s not too high up on their agenda but this is really important to the local area, people care about this. Where everything in the country seems so out of our control right now, these little things matter even more to people. This is our corner of the world and if we can control it ourselves we can at least have a little bit we can protect.”

When approached for comment, a representative from Sutton council said: “Sutton Council installed some wildlife signs in the Carshalton Ponds area in consultation with the local community. The signs are warning signs that meet highway design standards and do not require additional information. Earlier this month, we were asked to review the location of one of the signs and we will be visiting the site this week to review this and make any necessary adjustments.”

My London – Sutton