Middleton-cum-Fordley: Blanket 20mph limit imposed throughout village following lengthy campaign by WI

The village of Middleton-cum-Fordley has now got a blanket 20mph speed limit thanks to the efforts o

The village of Middleton-cum-Fordley has now got a blanket 20mph speed limit thanks to the efforts of the local WI. Front row left to right: WI president Rita Pateman, campaign organiser Irene Ralph, Karen Heather. Back row, left to right Janet Perkins, Val Sulch and Diane Cantle. - Credit: Archant

Safety conscious campaigners are celebrating after a successful three- and-a-half year fight to impose a blanket 20mph speed limit throughout their village.

The pioneering project – which will be used as a pilot scheme for the rest of Suffolk – is now in place in Middleton-cum-Fordley, near Saxmundham.

It came about through the efforts and perseverance of the local Women’s Institute (WI), which was keen to give something lasting to the community as part of its celebrations to mark its 90th birthday.

Following a door-to-door petition, the ladies found they had the overwhelming support of the village and worked tirelessly to achieve their goal. Talks with the parish council and highways department at the county council followed, while they also attended a “20’s Plenty for Us” conference in Warrington.

Irene Ralph, who spearheaded the campaign, said: “Some compromise has been made along the way but finally the 20mph signs have been installed, alongside ‘not suitable for HGV’ signs.

“We’re absolutely delighted. In our village what we have is single track roads with blind bends. But they all carried 30 or 40mph restrictions. We have primary and Montessori schools, a popular pub and an increasing population, many of whom cycle, walk their dog or horse ride.

“When you tried to slow people down they would point at the speed limit and say they were driving safely. However they weren’t driving to the appropriate conditions, that was one of the biggest problems. It made it very dangerous.”

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Mrs Ralph, who has lived in the village for more than 20 years, said they would like to thank the parish council for its support, along with the then county councillor Rae Leighton and former county council cabinet member with responsibilty for roads and transport, Guy McGregor.

Mary Evans, chairman of Suffolk County Council’s Roads and Transport Policy Development Panel, said they had already started investigating 20mph limits.

“It’s very early days but if they prove successful and affordable, and there is clear evidence of need, it could be something that gets rolled out elsewhere,” she added.