From: GRAY, Richard (Cotswold) [Richard.GRAY@gloucestershire.gov.uk]
Sent: 19 July 2016 07:10
To: Westonbirt Parish Council
Cc: GRAY, Richard (Cotswold); HICKS, Cllr Tony; PORTLOCK, Gillian; Handley, Garry (Glosfire); NORGATE, Steve (Police)
Subject: 20mph speed limit request Westonbirt village
Good Afternoon Mrs. Shepherd
I refer to your letter and the accompanying village signatures seeking a change in the speed limit in Westonbirt Village. I would like to thank you for taking the time in seeking the views of local residents and I have noted their support for a change in the speed limit from 30mph to 20mph with 24 signatures from 19 dwellings replying to your questionnaire. It is very regrettable that despite the sound advise in the Highway Code and in particular Sections 125, 144 & 146 which places the responsibility with the individual driver to be aware that speed limits are not targets and they should ensure that their driving should take into consideration the constraints of the road, the prevailing weather conditions and be aware of other conditions which may also present a hazard. That users of this road, and they would be familiar with its layout and local conditions choose to drive inappropriately. I wonder if your Parish have made representation to the Golf Club and the School seeking there cooperation in being a “ good neighbour”
Please be assured that all safety concerns which are raised with me are taken seriously and I do share the ambition to create as safe as environment as we can for all the users of the highways within the County. As part of this I would acknowledge that the use of speed limits can contribute towards this aim. However it must also be recognised that the introduction of a lower speed limit, especially in such a rural location would not guarantee that all motorists will comply and indeed there is evidence to suggest that setting an unrealistically low speed limit can lead to a high level of non-compliance, and the abuse of more critical limits and it is therefore critical to set realistic speed limits, which road users will respect and understand and that can be enforced.
The formal mechanism for introducing speed limits, or the amendment of an existing one is by the progression of a Traffic Regulation Order ( TRO), and the document that Local Authorities use for this are set in accordance with Department for Transport guidelines –( Dft Circular 01/2013 - Setting Local Speed Limits).This guidance has been developed following extensive research and is a distillation of national experience and technical research to ensure that appropriate speed limits are introduced in the right circumstances that improve rather than detract from road safety objectives. There is also specific advice on 20mph limits and in particular for a the successful 20 mph speed limits they need to be generally self-enforcing, i.e. the existing conditions of the road are such that the mean traffic speeds are compliant with the 20mph speed limit. In addition to achieve compliance there should be no expectation on the police to provide additional enforcement beyond their routine activity.
Currently the County Council are not planning to take forward any 20mph limits with its own funding as funding for ‘improvement’ works have been limited for dealing with safety scheme off the accident hotspot list, which this location is fortunately not on. This approach aligns itself with the corporate strategy of Living with our Means, Providing the Basics and Helping Communities to help themselves. However, should the community with the support of the Parish Council see this as a community priority they may wish to progress a 20mph limit via the Highways Community Offer, which gives communities, towns and parishes the ability to develop a 20mph limit from the county council via match funding. Please be advised that the cost associated with a TRO can be anything between £10k- £15k.
Given this would be a significant investment for your Parish I have had a brief look at the empirical evidence, after viewing the accident data base of all recorded personal injury accidents, i.e. those incidents to which the Police have attended, for Westonbirt village and I note that within the last five years there has been no injury accident. The very low accident indicator alone would lead me to think that should you seek via the community offer a reduction in the speed limit it would be unlikely to meet with the criteria. However the decision is yours.
I regret that this reply will be disappointing to you and the other parties who have signed the petition as I cannot accede to this request immediately but I would like to make you aware of the work our Road Safety Partnership Team undertake in these type of instances. The team are sometimes able to work with groups of local residents to design and develop road safety campaigns. I would therefore respectfully suggest that the Parish Council they make contact with the Road Safety Partnership’s manager Garry Handley OBE to see if a localised scheme can be developed. I have also copied in my Police colleague Mr. Norgate, road safety and traffic management officer, with a request that he highlights this matter with the local policing team.
Local Highways Manager
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