South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon has urged Government ministers to provide communities with greater influence over setting the speed limits in their local area.
In a letter to Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, Mr Bacon outlined a proposal for a ‘community right to reduce speed’, based on the Community Rights in the Localism Act, which would give local residents the right to request reducing the speed limit of a given road within their parish boundaries by 10mph.
Mr Bacon said it meant there would be a presumption in favour of a community request to decrease a speed limit, barring any objections by police on safety grounds.
He said on Monday: “Over the years, I have had many constituents contact me regarding speed limits on local roads which they want to see reduced.
“Local highways authorities often reply that there have been too few accidents to warrant a reduction in the speed limit, but I believe local people know what is best for their communities. They want action before people are hurt, not afterwards.
“A community right to reduce speed would be a positive step in reducing road casualties and protecting local residents. I can think of several parishes in my constituency where such a right would be seized with both hands.”
Councillor Barry Woods, chairman of Harleston with Redenhall Town Council, which implemented select 20mph zones back in 2009, said it was a “brilliant idea” to engage communities, but added that once speed limits were in place, more work was needed to get drivers to stick to them.
He told the Diss Express: “I think if the community wants to lower the speed limit, they should be able to. It’s fair to say though, that the fact the speed limit is there does not mean everybody abides by it.”
Cllr Woods added that volunteering schemes like the use of speed awareness machines (SAMs) was key to changing people’s behaviour.
“People need to be convinced that they can actually make a difference. If everyone does a little bit, the problem can be dealt with without the ‘big boys’ getting involved.”