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Bury St Edmunds: 20mph speed limit for Southgate corridor moves a step closer

10:30 04 March 2014

A residential town centre area plagued by accidents could soon have its speed limit reduced to 20mph as residents take advantage of a new policy at Suffolk County Council.

More than 10 years of campaigning by the Southgate Area Association in Bury St Edmunds could soon pay dividends as it was confirmed the Southgate corridor was on the shortlist for the council’s new 20mph policy, which was agreed by the council’s cabinet last week.

The policy sets out a number of criteria that groups have to meet before their area is considered for a 20mph speed limit, such as local support, wider social and health benefits and the practicality of enforcement.

A key tipping point in Southgate’s favour has been the backing of local county councillor Mark Ereira-Guyer, who has vowed to give £8,000 from his annual highways budget and further money from the £12,000 a year he is given for community projects.

He said: “For the residents that live there it’s vital for their safety and wellbeing. It will make the whole ambience of the area better and reduce the pollution.

“The residents have been campaigning for over a decade, we’ve now got the policy in place and now it’s a case of seeing if the whole residential area wants it.”

There will be two periods of consultation - an official one with the police to determine its suitability, as well as an informal public consultation to gauge support in the local area and decide where any new 20mph limit should cover.

Early suggestions for the Southgate corridor limit include Honey Hill, Sparhawk Street and into Southgate Street.

The area, which currently has a 30mph limit, has seen a number of accidents over the years as drivers make their way along the narrow one-way streets, where residents’ cars are often parked along the road.

One of the latest accidents happened in the early hours of Christmas Day, when a car crashed into a parked vehicle in Southgate Street.

The Southgate Area Association has been the driving force behind calls to see the 20mph limit introduced, as chairman Keith Horton says the current limit sends out the wrong message.

He said: “The issue is not speeding in the sense that vehicles that have been involved in accidents along the Southgate corridor were necessarily exceeding the 30mph limit - though of course we can’t be sure of that - but that a 30mph limit gives a message to drivers that is wholly inappropriate.

“It’s patently unsafe to attempt to negotiate the Southgate corridor, with it’s historic character, narrow road and footway width, junctions and bends at speeds approaching 30mph.

“It is this unsafe speed, but still within the legal limit, that causes the danger. This is the logic of the 20mph campaign to cover this area.”

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