October 1 2014 Latest news:
Andrew Fitchett, Reporter
Monday, August 11, 2014
Communities could be handed increased powers to lower speed limits in their towns and villages after a Norfolk MP called on ministers to take action.
The death of a Sheringham High School pupil earlier this year has given fresh urgency to a long-running campaign for a lower speed limit on the A148 near the resort.
Martha Seaward, 15, was crossing the busy road in January when she was hit by a lorry.
The driver has since been given a formal warning for speeding by the police.
The stretch of road, near its junction with Lodge Hill and the entrance to the National Trust’s Sheringham Park, had been the subject of a long-running speed-limit campaign before the tragedy. The national speed limit currently applies, meaning that vehicles can travel up to 60mph.
“We would like to see the limit reduced to 40mph,” said Martha’s mum, Karen Seaward, of Coronation Road, Holt.
• She has launched a Justice for Martha Facebook campaign and part of its aim is to achieve a speed limit reduction on the road. Nearly 650 people have signed her petition.
Richard Bacon, MP for South Norfolk, has written to Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin to urge him to give residents the right to have speed limits on roads within their parish boundaries slashed by 10mph.
Based on the Community Rights in the Localism Act, he said requests would be weighted in favour of the community unless police raised objections on safety grounds.
In an announcement released today, Mr Bacon said: “Over the years, I have had many constituents contact me regarding speed limits on local roads which they want to see reduced.
“Local highways authorities often reply that there have been too few accidents to warrant a reduction in the speed limit but I believe local people know what is best for their communities. They want action before people are hurt, not afterwards.
“The Localism Act already provides local people with the ‘Community Right to Bid’ and the ‘Community Right to Challenge’, both of which have been embraced a means of giving residents greater control of their own locality.
“A ‘Community Right to Reduce Speed’ would be a positive step in reducing road casualties and protecting local residents, and I can think of several parishes in my constituency where such a right would be seized with both hands”.
Reaction from community speedwatch groups was mixed, with some welcoming increased local input, but others warning that any roads reduced to 20mph would be hard to enforce.
Margaret Rutter, from Thetford Community Speedwatch, warned that the police-endorsed groups were not allowed to monitor 20mph zones.
“It’s good that the MP is looking to lower speed limits as speeding is clearly a problem in communities. But they also have to look at the way these things are enforced and the regulations surrounding speedwatch groups in particular.
“We know from people speaking to us that 20mph speed limits are often ignored and they have to be monitored,” she said.
Campaigners in Sheringham and Thorpe St Andrew welcomed the move, saying it would give “more leverage” to councillors to use their local knowledge effectively.
Let us know what you think of Mr Bacon’s plea in the comments section below.