Call for police chief to visit Beccles after speed watch group is told it can’t operate in 20mph zone
- Credit: Nick Butcher
A group formed to protect Beccles from speeding motorists is calling for Suffolk's Police and Crime Commissioner to visit the town and see the problem first-hand.
The Beccles Community Speed Watch group formed last year following a campaign to establish the town's first 20mph zone, with hopes of extending it to more areas.
But despite the new signage, residents are still concerned about speeding in the area – particularly down Northgate, a one-way 20mph street – and say it is an 'accident waiting to happen'.
The volunteers contacted Suffolk Police last July to register as a speed watch group and carry out checks. However after a year of waiting, and with £4,000 pledged by the town council to buy a speed indication device, they have now been told by police that they can only operate in 30mph areas.
At a meeting this week, members called for Tim Passmore, Suffolk's PCC, to visit Beccles in a bid to overturn the decision.
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Andrea Downes, from Northgate Neighbourhood Society which campaigned for the 20mph zone, said: 'Lots of people are not comfortable walking along Northgate because the pavements are very narrow and drivers continue to speed.
'Every day children walk up and down the road and we are now getting into the tourist season with lots of people coming up from the quay. There are also elderly people that live along there who are scared to leave their front doors because they are worried about the road.'
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Hugh Taylor, who organised the meeting, said: 'We want the police to know the strength of feeling about this and we want something to happen.
'Residents of the town want this to succeed because they want the 20mph zone to extend to other areas, but this can only happen if it is effective in bringing speeds down.'
In response to the invitation, Mr Passmore said: 'I do understand the disappointment of Beccles speed watch for not being able to operate in the 20mph zone, but I know the constabulary has explained the reasons for this and I support them in this decision.'
Mr Passmore is due to visit Beccles on September 14 as part of a series of public meetings across the county.
Statement from Suffolk Constabulary
The Community Safety Department, which oversees the speed watch scheme, said 20mph zones are generally for very short stretches of road which creates issues with placing signs, giving motorists advance warning of checks and finding safe places for volunteers to stand.
Superintendent Tonya Antonis, said: 'National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) guidance, which Community Speed Watch volunteers should follow, only allows them to operate in 30mph areas. It is a frequently asked question and colleagues from community safety have recently attended the County Road Safety Board along with roads policing representatives and explained the situation.
'All speed watch sites are reviewed by roads policing before volunteers can operate there, and so therefore we have to follow the NPCC guidance which is only for 30mph sites. We would urge the volunteers identified to participate in the supported 30mph schemes which operate throughout the county and have such a positive impact on road safety in Suffolk.'