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Cabinet Member for Highways NCC Feb 2021

FOR YOUR INFORMATION. Please see below communication that the Parish Council have received from the cabinet member responsible for highways at the present County Council.

Trial of 20mph speed advisory signs to start soon.

"More and more frequently, I receive e-mails either asking what can be done about speeding traffic in the writer’s village, or suggesting that I do not take such issues seriously enough.

After decades of awareness campaigns, driving too fast for either the road or the driving conditions is still one of the most common contributory factors in collisions.

I realise that many of you, particularly those in villages and rural areas, will frequently experience speeding traffic through your communities. It is certainly something we want to work with you on to understand the problem and how it could be addressed.

With the recent pandemic and lockdown, your villages are probably nicer places to be already. Less traffic and quieter roads means that there are some benefits to this terrible pandemic. I know from talking to residents that so many have taken up walking and cycling and the thought of roads getting ‘back to normal’ is not something people are looking forward to.

We completely understand how dangerous some drivers make our roads and know that simple trips to the shops or to school can be a daunting and dangerous experiences.

In other areas of the UK, Local Authorities have been looking at this and fortunately, 20mph limits are becoming increasingly more common in villages. You may ask why can’t we just have the legal limits reduced and be done with it.

Speed limits should be set according to many factors including the speed that most drivers would naturally drive at (this is referred to as the 85percentile speed). To reduce speeds on roads with speed limits of 30mph or more to 20mph, engineering measures would need to be in place to physically bring speeds down and budgets simply aren’t available.

Formalised 20mph speed limits also tend to be contentious as well as emotive and the supporting evidence researched by the Department for Transport is inconclusive in terms of the benefits delivered.

Our Road Safety Team will testify that we are constantly asked for traffic calming, speed cameras and additional signage but clearly any measure that we put in will vary depending on the location and problem and also the effect it will have on the different road users.

We remain cautious about installing enforceable signage and are following the DfT research closely but, in the meantime, want to work with parishes to define the real problem clearly and work out what the desired outcome is.

Historically as an authority, we have stopped Parishes from installing signs to slow drivers down for a number of reasons. Research is still going on to see if these really work and we are also mindful of that fact that drivers have so much to be aware of that extra street clutter could just create another distraction.

However, it is clear from the conversations we have with residents of villages and at Parish meetings that this really is a hot topic and something people feel very strongly about.

With this in mind, I asked Northamptonshire Highways to review the Network Management Plan and am delighted that we have agreed to pilot a 20mph advisory speed limit scheme in the county with the aim of deterring inappropriate speeds.

Initially we will work with one or two Parishes to trial the temporary signs, which will be installed and managed by the Community Liaison Officers at NCC. This way we will be able to assess the impact they are having. The temporary signs will be advisory, alerting, or reminding motorists to exercise careful speed management in residential environments.

Many of our villages have narrow roads with limited footways and we want to see what difference the signs will have and see if we can improve safety within local communities.

The plan is to install temporary signs in predominantly residential areas where the speed limit is currently set at 30mph. We hope this will encourage motorists to proceed with caution due to the mix of vulnerable road users such as children, cyclists, and pedestrians in general.

As these are ‘poster’ advisory signs and not permanent traffic signs, we will work with Parishes to identify the best locations and they will only be in place for fixed period. We want to avoid ‘sign fatigue’ and know that messages of this nature are most successful within the first few weeks of being in place.

The pilot will allow us to evaluate the success and see what impact they have on different road users. We intend to run an initial pilot scheme for 8 weeks and then invite Parishes to register their interest in being part of the 20mph advisory speed limit scheme.

With this in mind, we will invite Parishes that take part in the trial to complete a survey to provide us with your observations about driver behaviour in your community.

For now, I am delighted that these changes have come about quickly and that we are able to make this happen. As soon as we have more information back from the pilot, we will update you on the next steps.

Another community initiative worth quickly mentioning is the Parish Path Warden (PPW) Scheme.

We did ask people to register their interest in being a PPW last year and would like to thank everyone who got in touch. However, with the unexpected change in our world and the current situation, we did not manage to finalise all of the details

We feel this is the right time to get this going again as we come into the spring and if you like walking, being out in the fresh air and exploring your local area, this could be for you.

A Parish Path Warden supports the important work we already do on our Rights of Way to keep them accessible and safe for all. We cannot be everywhere and spot everything and your support would be so valuable. All we are asking is that you note down any issues you find or think may be a problem for others and report to our Street Doctor service.

An email from Northamptonshire Highways will be coming out soon, so please look out for it and get involved."

Cabinet Member for Place, Highways and The Environment. NCC February 2021