Essex: new 20mph policy for residential and school roads

People want 20 mph speed limits near schools

People want 20 mph speed limits near schools - Credit: Archant

COMMUNITIES who want to introduce lower speed limits on roads in their neighbourhood now have more chance of doing so, says Essex’s highway chief.

The cabinet member for highways and transportation at Essex County Council, Derrick Louis, said the change has come after the council recently reviewed its speed management policy.

He said: “Last year, there were a lot of calls from members of the public for reduced speed limits because of concerns for road safety.

“Previously, the way we viewed requests was restrictive but we have renewed the internal policy and responded to the genuine concerns of local people.”

Mr Louis said that before the review “the presumption was that a great deal of evidence was required” to support any change in speed limits. Now, the new policy is to look more “favourably” on proposals that are supported by communities and local members. This could include new 20mph zones in localised areas, such as residential roads and outside schools.

Recommendations for any changes to speed limits will have to come through the Essex Local Highways Panels (LHP).

LHPs, made up of county and district councillors, have been set up in all 12 districts or boroughs in the county and are responsible for making recommendations and setting priorities for highways schemes in their areas.

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Members meet on a quarterly basis to consider highways expenditure within their local district or borough boundaries.

In Colchester, borough councilllor Nigel Offen welcomed the news that the county council has moved to support calls for speed restrictions.

Mr Offen has recently been involved in implementing 20mph zones on roads around the Colchester Garrison, such as Berechurch Hall Road and Layer Road, which are in his ward.

He said; “In this case, Garrison families wanted to see the limit reduced to 20mph because the nearby roads are long and straight and ideal for speeding.

“They had concerns for their children, who play on grassed areas near the road without any protection from cars.

“I approached the portfolio holder at county council and it was agreed. It has taken a bit of time to get it implemented, but we are now in the process of putting up the last of the new signs. and the residents are very pleased with the outcome.”

Mr Offen is a retired NHS worker who spent many years working as a consultant surgeon.

He said: “I treated the victims of car accidents and there is a marked difference between those who are hit at 30mph and those who get knocked over when a car is travelling at 20mph.

“Reducing speed limits can really lead to a huge decrease in mortality rates,” he added.