Lower rural speed limit plea

A GREEN Party councillor has hit out after his pleas for lower speed limits on rural Essex roads fell on deaf ears.James Abbott, councillor for Bradwell, Silver End and Rivenhall ward, called for traffic to be slowed by 10mph to 50mph - but says he has been frustrated by the lack of support for his cause.

A GREEN Party councillor has hit out after his pleas for lower speed limits on rural Essex roads fell on deaf ears.

James Abbott, councillor for Bradwell, Silver End and Rivenhall ward, called for traffic to be slowed by 10mph to 50mph - but says he has been frustrated by the lack of support for his cause.

He claims that many rural roads in the Braintree area are too narrow in places for large vehicles to pass, and have blind bends and hidden entrances.

Mr Abbott said: “I cannot understand why the county council and the police persist in supporting the untenable situation where the speed limit on many rural roads in Braintree district and across Essex is 60mph.


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“The county council and the police say the speed limit is not the main relevant factor and that drivers should drive according to the conditions.

“Why then have any speed limits at all? There surely have to be legally enforceable limits on all roads that are a safe maximum for that road.”

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Mr Abbot said that many rural roads in north Essex were barely suitable for 50mph, let alone 60mph and that there were a significant number of drivers who frequently did not drive according to the conditions.

He added: “The police are rarely seen along many rural roads until there is a crash. They do a tremendous and difficult job dealing with crashes when they happen, but why don't they support lower speed limits and enforce them to help prevent the crashes in the first place?

“Essex has a worryingly high rate of road crashes and in many areas pedestrians and cyclists are being intimidated off rural roads by high volumes of speeding traffic.”

The idea has the backing of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England's Essex branch, which aims to improve and protect the region's roads.

However, one of Essex Police's senior traffic officers said that it was not the responsibility of the police to dictate speed limits, and that lower limits had been introduced on certain stretches of road.

Inspector Mark Harman, from Essex Police road policing unit, said: “The national speed limit of 60mph on rural roads is set through legislation and any blanket lowering of the speed limit would be the responsibility of central government.

“In particular circumstances of rural roads with a significant casualty history the county council may impose lower limits.”

His stance was supported by the region's transport chief, Essex county councillor Rodney Bass, (Con) who said the campaign to reduce road casualties should be focused more on driver education than cutting speed limits.

Mr Bass, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “Essex County Council doesn't believe in blanket speed limits. What is very important is that drivers drive appropriately to the conditions.

“We don't agree with him and we don't have any proposals for reducing speed limits. It would not be enforceable and people would disregard it, unless you have a major enforcement programme which would irritate drivers.”

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