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Sudbury: Town drops 20mph zone idea

PUBLISHED: 08:12 02 May 2014 | UPDATED: 08:12 02 May 2014

Traffic in Sudbury

Traffic in Sudbury

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A push to get 20mph speed limits implemented throughout Sudbury has been dropped because new criteria introduced by the county council would make it impossible for most of the town’s roads to qualify.

In 2012, Suffolk’s highways boss put a freeze on implementing new speed restriction zones in the county, but the authority recently adopted a new policy on lower speed limits.

This was after its roads and transport policy development panel conducted a widescale investigation of 20mph zones and drew up a list of criteria.

Priority is given to roads with a history of accidents, where there are high levels of pedestrian activity, and where conservation areas needed protection.

But unless there are exceptional circumstances, 20mph zones will not be considered on A and B class roads, those with existing average speeds above 30mph and where there is no significant local support for such a scheme.

At a Sudbury highways committee meeting this week, members decided that the only place that would qualify under the new criteria was near schools, most of which already have 20mph limits in place.

Committee chairman Tony Platt, who was behind the 20mph push, said: “20 zones will only be considered where two out of the three criteria have been met but not on an A or B road, which rules out most of ours. I still believe that if areas are signed as 20 it will make motorists think.”

But town councillor Simon Barrett is against the introduction of a “blanket” 20mph scheme across the whole town.

He said: “If you introduce a blanket 20mph limit, it has no worthwhile meaning. The boy racers who ignore the 30mph signs will have even less desire to respect 20mph limits.

“I think the perception is that Sudbury has more of a problem with speeding than it actually has. The data shows we have actually had very few serious accidents in the town since 2005.”

The committee decided to put forward one area around Tudor, Clarence, York and Priory roads – where there are upper and primary schools – as a proposed trial area.

Committee member Nigel Bennett said: “The main purpose of 20mph is to safeguard children so having them near schools is the obvious place. Although we already have 20 zones around schools, extending them would give people more time to slow down.”

Meanwhile in Bury St Edmunds plans are forging ahead for a 20mph limit in the Southgate Street corridor.

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said informal consultation had been carried out with the local community which had gained a “very positive response,” and the authority was progressing with formal consultation with statutory consultees, including the police.

If this statutory consultation is successful the county council will make an order.

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council, said: “The Policy Development Panel for roads and transport have the remit to look at requests and recommendations for any proposed 20mph limits.

“These proposals will then be publicly consulted on, the responses will be taken into account before a final decision is made as to whether to introduce a speed limit to the area in question.”

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