Villagers take on speeders

THE first ever DIY speed crackdown in a Suffolk village - giving residents the power to catch drivers breaking the law - could be used elsewhere if successful.

THE first ever DIY speed crackdown in a Suffolk village - giving residents the power to catch drivers breaking the law - could be used elsewhere if successful, it has emerged.

The community-based project was launched yesterday in Blythburgh, near Southwold, and means villagers can help police to tackle the problem of motorists speeding along the A12.

Volunteers who take part have been trained to use the laser monitoring equipment, which records the speed and registration of passing vehicles.

The details are then forwarded to Suffolk police so a letter can be sent to the driver. If two letters are then sent to the same car owner, the information is sent to a speed enforcement officer to consider possible prosecution.

But it is believed the programme could pave the way for other communities to address the problem of speeding, particularly along the A12 Lowestoft to Ipswich road which runs through several small villages.

Binny Lewis, Blythburgh parish councillor and coordinator of the Blythburgh community speed watch scheme, said: “About three years ago, people from the village were complaining about the excessive speed of cars driving along the A12 at almost every parish meeting.

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“When I joined the parish council I decided to take the issue on and do something about it. We made initial inquiries, organised the scheme with the local police and now it is finally taking off.

“We're proud to be the first village in Suffolk doing this, and hopefully we'll be the first of many.”

Parish councils in the neighbouring villages of Westleton and Walberswick have already expressed an interest in starting their own speed watch groups.

PC Kevin Stollery, from the Saxmundham and Framlingham Safer Neighbourhood Team, said: “It's a way for us to get some statistics as to what sort of speeds people are doing through the villages so that we can then target those areas as necessary.

“It will hopefully provide lots more information than we as police have the resources to gather. I'm sure other villages will be interested to see how this scheme goes and then maybe do something similar themselves.”

Sgt Daye Goddard, from Saxmundham and Framlingham SNT, said: “The volunteers will be a tremendous help to the police by identifying specific locations that have speeding issues, which will assist officers in targeting repeat speeding.”

So far, five volunteers have been trained by police the speed monitoring equipment - which was donated to the village by the organisers of the Latitude music festival held in neighbouring Henham - but another volunteer is needed.

However, there was not widespread support for the prospect of community speed watch schemes.

Derek Firth, chairman of Great Barton Parish Council, said the parish had experienced ongoing difficulties with speeding drivers particularly in East Barton Road and Fornham Road.

But although the council had considered expressing an interest in joining speed watch, the idea was rejected because the council felt the public should not be expected to do the police's job.

“It involves quite a bit of cost to set up, we would be doing the police's job for them, you get people to stand out there in the cold and possibly catch their friends and neighbours which could cause problems,” Mr Firth said.

“We would like more police out there because the problem is one of police presence. They come out occasionally but people go back to their old habits again.”

? For more information about the scheme or about becoming a speed watch volunteer, contact Chief Insp Mike Bacon on 01473 613568.