Villagers bid to cut out speeding
EAST Anglian villagers are taking the law into their own hands and buying speed guns to crackdown on reckless drivers who endanger their communities.Fed up with motorists speeding through their villages, locals are fighting back – and it is hoped the threat of a hefty fine or penalty points will prove a suitable deterrent.
EAST Anglian villagers are taking the law into their own hands and buying speed guns to crackdown on reckless drivers who endanger their communities.
Fed up with motorists speeding through their villages, locals are fighting back – and it is hoped the threat of a hefty fine or penalty points will prove a suitable deterrent.
Communities across the region are picking up on the idea, which first started filtering through last year.
Sudbury was one of the first areas in East Anglia to get its own speed gun, with councillors using the equipment and handing information over to police, and last September Thorpe, just across the Essex border, also made a bid to acquire a gun.
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More recently, residents in Eye, Felixstowe and the villages surrounding it have been considering the move.
Peter Monk, portfolio holder for public protection on Suffolk County Council, welcomed the idea.
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He said: "As long as they're used responsibly – and I'm sure they are – I'm very keen.
"Being the instigators of the 30mph limits ten years ago, we need to continue that and we don't have the resources and probably neither do the police.
"At the end of the day, people want to protect their communities and, used responsibly, this is a good idea.
"It's also a reminder that, while we are all very keen to use them in our own villages, we also need to drive responsibly through other villages – and we all need a reminder of that now and then."
In Felixstowe, local police have asked 11 parish councils in the area to consider pooling their resources and buying a £1,000 speed gun.
The plans were mooted after Trimley St Martin Parish Council asked Felixstowe police for its own speed gun last year.
Although the request was turned down other measures were introduced, including mobile speed indicator devices, which highlighted a problem.
Mick Richardson, community police sergeant for the Felixstowe area, said: "The measures in Trimley showed us a level of speeding that we were unaware of and we are keen to address the issue.
"We have approached a number of parish councils to see if they would be willing to join together and so far the feedback has been very positive."
In Eye, a monitoring exercise involving Suffolk County Council's Speed Indicator Device (SID) revealed that many drivers were exceeding the 30 mph speed limit, with some of them travelling at up to 60 mph.
Now town mayor David Thorndyke is set to write to nearby villages with an idea to share the costs of providing a radar "gun" for the local police station and train officers in its use.
"The situation at the moment is that local officers do not have a radar gun and are not trained to use one," he said.
"Radar surveillance is carried out by the county police traffic unit and its resources are already very stretched."
Mr Thorndyke added that the results of the SID survey were "absolutely disgraceful".
Of the radar gun proposal, he said: "The idea is that if local officers got a spare couple of hours from time to time they could get out to problem spots with the radar gun."
Rev Simon Wilson, co-ordinator for Roadpeace in East Anglia, said: "More communities are trying to do things on their own because they are so concerned about the dangers on the roads and they do not think enough is being done about it.
"It is becoming a particular problem on rural roads, with people driving through villages at very fast speeds.
"Anything that deters people from speeding is a good thing and speed guns could have an important part to play."
He added: "We don't want to see people criminalised – we want people to slow down because speeding is dangerous, rather than because the law says so."