I attended the Traffic and Parking Working Party meeting yesterday; I was Cllr David Norman’s substitute. I did my best to make some worthwhile contributions and I think I more or less got my points over. Am I the only one where the killer arguments come to mind once these sorts of meetings are over?

Anyway, I do not intend to go into the detail of the decisions taken but rather dwell on one discussion point – twenty miles per hour speed limits and their enforcement.

The issue came up because of a request to have a 20mph limit put in near a school. I favour a general policy for 20mph near all schools, although I realise this aspiration will go unfulfilled where a school is on an arterial route. If we can get variable limits we may be able to put this in everywhere immediately adjacent to a school, even those on A roads and the like. The arguments about rush-hour are somewhat answered by the reality of speed limits that are unattainable due to the density of traffic during the busiest parts of the day.

The argument employed against 20mph limits in the particular location under discussion was that of enforcement. A council officer said that for 30mph limits and higher the Police can issue Fixed Penalty Notices. For 20mph they had to arrest and take to a police station.

It was stated that we cannot have a limit if we cannot enforce it. I countered that it could be enforced; it was a matter of the Police’s reluctance to do so. It was stated that a 20mph must be accompanied by calming measures such as speed humps.

Now, my views about speed humps are well known, and I am not going to support any measure to introduce more.

I seem to have less jaundiced view about motorists than some of my fellow councillors. They give me the impression of believing that speed limits are ignored unless all sorts of enforcement is put in place. I accept that there will always be those who ignore limits, as there will be those who speeding is accidental. I maintain that most people try to keep to limits, especially in urban areas. Limits at the very least restrain speeding so limit a lower limit might be broken, but the driving will still be slower than had the normal urban limit of 30mph been left in place.

However, if we see sustained flouting of a 20mph limit then I think we could apply pressure to the Police to enforce, even if this does inconvenience them by making trips to a police station necessary. A few arrests will soon have a deterrent effect.

After the meeting I made my way home via the Kursaal as I dropped a councillor off at their home. My route included the stretch of road between the Kursaal and the Pier. Quelle surprise, this is a 20mph zone, and no speed humps!

I think the arguments used against me are rubbished by the existence of this road and its speed limit.


8 Responses to 20MPH

  1. Julian, on the 20mph speed limit at City Beach there is enforcement albeit not speed humps in the form of average speed cameras. The post comes across as if there is no enforcement of this 20mph zone.

    I understand where you are coming from regarding police enforcement but without unlimited resources rightly or wrongly I am sure the public would put police enforcement of 20mph zones down the priority list and not a good use of police time when other measures could be taken to ensure compliance of the speed limit.

  2. dave says:

    Hi Julian,

    Most of Westborough ward is 20 BUT there are only 20MPH markers as you enter the zone,
    Drivers forget when they turn into Westborough Road and carry on at speed when they turn into the north south roads.
    If you get 20MPH in your area hound the council to put repeaters on any roads you have like Westborough Road
    Motorists speeding [20+] in north south streets deny seeing the 20 signs quite understandable when you need to look out not only for slow moving pedestrian but speedy bikes on footpath.
    Keep up the good work

  3. Tony

    Resources could be used as an excuse not to pass any law or by-law. Why not introduce the limit and then see whether enforcement is necessary? I suspect that the vast majority of road users would respect the limit. One should also consider that in the eventuality of an accident excessive speed may be taken into account when prosecuting.

    Besides, once Labour are returned to power nationally the police will be properly funded!

  4. Actually, Tony, nowhere do I say that the seafront limit is not enforced, and at no time in that working party meeting were average speed cameras mentioned. I accept that the nature of blog posts are such that the debates are necessarily brief, but I do hope that I have not tried to mislead.

  5. P Barritt says:

    I am in favour of a blanket 20mph area. It is in my opinion about residential streets being just that, residential. I doubt if this will ever happen in the Southend area as the main concern seems to be traffic flow, including rat runs etc.
    Going onto another road related issue in your and my area, Milton ward, I can think of at least three building works where the footpath has been removed for the convenience of the building contractor with no temporary provision made for pedestrians other than to walk in the road. The three areas are Milton Road/St Johns Rd, Westcliff Parade at the land slip building area and Western Esplanade/Shorefield Road.
    Its all very well to be campaigning for lower speed limits but the first priority should be pedestrian safety and not the convenience motorists. By taking away footpaths you are endangering the most vulnerable.

  6. Julian the police not enforcing 20mph zones did not just start from 2010. This started way into the last Labour Government when public money was being dished around like confetti. Julian, like you I’m not a particular fan of speed humps and would never propose them for my ward but equally do not want a 20mph zone put in only for the same issue to come to us in six months time due to lack of compliance. This is only learning from previous experience which only seems wise.

  7. Julian I accept that you are not trying to mislead but nowhere in your post did you mention that there was enforcement. There are a number of ways of enforcing a 20mph zone with speed humps and average speed cameras just a couple of examples

  8. Rob Brown says:

    I remember reading a study somewhere that suggested an obvious school warning sign was one of the most effective signs we have. I presume it already has one.

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