A renewed call is being made for default 20mph speed limits in Suffolk to make villages and towns safer.

The call is being made after a default speed limit of 20mph was brought in for motorists on restricted roads, usually located in residential and built-up areas, in Wales following an update to the Highway Code.

Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford has said the decision will save lives, but the move has not been overwhelmingly popular – a record-breaking 175,000 people have signed a petition urging the Welsh government to drop the policy.

Green councillor Robert Lindsay, who represents the Cosford ward on Suffolk County Council, which includes villages like Lavenham and Bildeston, said the speed limit was something he would like to see replicated in Suffolk. 

East Anglian Daily Times: Cllr Robert LindsayCllr Robert Lindsay (Image: Robert Lindsay)

"With Wales now implementing default 20mph limits in almost all residential areas, the case for doing the same in Suffolk is immensely strengthened," he said.

"It's not just Wales: it’s hard to find a road that isn’t 20mph within the London congestion zone now.  

"All councils in Scotland are either already default 20mph in residential areas or are rolling it out by 2025. Cornwall County Council began installing default 20mph last year." 

In October 2020, Mr Lindsay and the Liberal Democrat, Green and Independent group at Suffolk County Council put forward a motion for 20mph to be the default speed limit, with 30mph to be used only in “exceptional circumstances”.

The group said it would improve road and pedestrian safety, reduce the air pollution levels and encourage more people to take to their bicycle or walking.

But the motion was rejected by 48 votes against to 20 votes in favour after councillors voiced opinions that it could not be enforced.

East Anglian Daily Times: Mr Lindsay has said he would like to see a similar 20mph limit as the one brought in in Wales introduced to SuffolkMr Lindsay has said he would like to see a similar 20mph limit as the one brought in in Wales introduced to Suffolk (Image: Denise Bradley/Newsquest)

Mr Lindsay, however, has maintained that it would be a positive move for residents particularly those in villages.

He said 20mph signs are currently being installed in Bildeston after a parish council survey found two thirds of villagers wanted them, and 65 per cent of people in Lavenham said they would support the lower limit, which has now been approved in principle by the county council.

"Every year in Suffolk about 100 people are killed or seriously injured on 30mph limit roads," he said.

"London's experience is that 20mph limits have cut deaths and serious injury by a quarter. If that happens in Suffolk, around 25 families a year will be saved from trauma or bereavement.  

"Safer roads make our villages and towns better places to live - quieter, cleaner and with healthier air. They encourage more people to walk and cycle and visit local independent shops, reducing congestion and pollution and helping local economies.  

"If only our county council administration could find the courage to follow Wales." 

There are currently 59 traffic regulation orders for 20mph speed limits in Suffolk, and there may be a number of roads within those orders that have a 20mph speed limit.

The 20mph zones, which differ from 20mph speed limits in that they do not have an associated traffic order, normally have 'self-enforcing' speed reduction measures in place such as speed humps and road layouts that encourage drivers to slow down.

A 20mph zone can be brought in by a council without permission being sought, but if a zone is introduced without a traffic order then the speed limit applicable will be 30mph, despite the advisory 20mph signs. 

A Suffolk police spokesman said: "Obviously in this instance any enforcement work would be around the 30mph speed limit rather than 20mph.

"Local residents are able to check with their local highways team if they require more information around a scheme in their area and whether there are any traffic orders in place."