Suffolk: Speeding fears lead to review of 20mph zones

Both the Suffolk Police Federation and the countys Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore, pict

Both the Suffolk Police Federation and the countys Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore, pictured, defended the action of awarding bonuses to officers in exceptional circumstances. - Credit: Archant

Stopping motorists from speeding through west Suffolk’s historic towns and villages should be treated as a priority issue by police and highways chiefs.

That was the message given to the county’s Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore and Chief Constable Douglas Paxton at a public meeting in Sudbury.

The event gave people in the Babergh District Council area a chance to air their concerns and hear about current police initiatives to combat rural crime. Among the key issues raised were anti-social behaviour and street drinking. But several residents urged police to help enforce speed restrictions in villages such as Long Melford and Clare, and they renewed calls for the introduction of 20mph zones.

Neighbourhood Watch Association co-ordinator Robin Hughes, from Long Melford, told Mr Passmore: “Nine out of 10 queries I receive from members are about speeding. I am involved in a watch where there are quite a lot of older people and it’s a great worry to my members, who want to see a police presence on the streets because they feel it’s a deterrent to would be speeders.”

County councillor for Stour Valley, James Finch, believes speeding is putting people at risk, especially in historic villages with narrow streets and pavements. He said: “It’s a major issue in our medieval villages - it causes injury to people, vehicle damage and also damage to heritage properties in certain cases. Is there any serious consideration being given to implementing 20mph restrictions in this area?”

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Mr Paxton said police were unable to enforce ‘advisory’ signs such as ‘20’s plenty’ signs near school zones. But he added: “We can enforce red traffic signs with 20 in the middle as long as we can deploy staff safely, and we would be willing to do this if it boosts public confidence.”

Last year, former county council highways boss Guy McGregor put a freeze on implementing new 20mph zones.

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But at a Sudbury Town Council meeting last week his successor Graham Newman said a mixed party ‘roads and policy development panel’ was currently reviewing the council’s approach to 20mph limits and zones with a view to developing a county-wide policy.

But he added: “We might be have to look for partners such as the town councils to help us introduce these things because they cost money to fund and there is no money for this coming from (central) Government.”

The panel’s recommendations on 20-zones will be made to the county council cabinet in January.

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