New roadside devices to deter speeding in Lancashire - and a call for a blanket urban 20mph limit

Lancashire Constabulary has been asked to make speeding “a priority”, amid concern amongst county councillors that limits are being flouted on the region’s roads.

Monday, 1st March 2021, 2:25 pm
Updated Monday, 1st March 2021, 2:28 pm

Four new variable message signs – recently bought by Lancashire County Council – are soon to be deployed in an effort to encourage motorists to slow down in areas known to be speeding hotspots.

The mobile devices, which are hitched to trailers, will join two others which are already in use across the county having been purchased by the police.

A meeting of Lancashire County Council’s full council backed a motion from the Conservative member for Leyland South, Jayne Rear, expressing concern that “more could be done to control” the problem of speeding – and asking the Labour Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Clive Grunshaw, what he was doing to “minimise the risk” to the people of Lancashire.

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Should all roads in built-up areas of Lancashire have a 20mph limit, like this one in Preston?

However, within moments of the debate beginning, the matter was soon thick with political significance – coming just months before the four-yearly PCC elections.

Seconding the motion was the Conservative candidate for that office, Andrew Snowden, who said that he wanted to strike a “cross-party tone”.

“Speeding is a concern for many residents across Lancashire and with, at times, the roads being quieter and vehicles being able to travel at greater speeds – and more residents being at home and able to witness the speeding and be at risk themselves – this issue has increased.

“The predominant responsibility for speeding sits with the Constabulary and Police and Crime Commissioner. But we don’t want to point fingers and have a blame game, we want to work together to use the extra resource that the county council is putting in to ask the [PCC] to come up with a better plan for tackling speeding in Lancashire,” said County Cllr Snowden, who represents the Hoghton with Wheelton division.

A meeting of County Hall’s internal scrutiny committee back in November heard that there was little evidence to suggest that speeding had worsened since the pandemic struck, with barely any change in the severity of the offences caught on camera last summer compared to the same period in 2019.

However, the debate at full council turned on who should take responsibility for doing something about the issue – however bad it may be.

Labour county councillor Jean Parr said that “the crux of this matter, as ever, is resources”.

“Give the Commissioner the tools and he will do the job. A quick glance at police numbers will reassure anyone of the truly Herculean effort that Commissioner Grunshaw has put in to the task of maximising officer strength,” she said.

After some debate between the two main parties into an amendment put forward by the Labour group, it was agreed also to ask the county council’s chief executive to write to the home secretary to request “continued investment” in policing in Lancashire.

Liberal Democrat group leader David Whip said that it was “blatantly obvious” that the issue had become a “proxy war” between the two parties in the forthcoming PCC elections.

He added that the removal of many of the “physical and engineering measures” on residential roads when Lancashire County Council introduced a blanket 20mph limit on such routes in 2011 had led to less effective control of speeding.

Meanwhile, a plea from Green Party county councillor Gina Dowding for County Hall to incorporate into its resolution a call from Lancaster City Council – where she is a cabinet member – for a trial of a 20mph limit on all urban roads in that district was rejected.

She said: “We have a lack of continuity for most drivers on even the smallest trips they take if they cross a main road. So they go from a 20mph area into a short area of 30mph on a main road or A road – before they go back to 20.

“[The way] we tackle the driver culture is to give drivers a clear message – if you’re in a built-up area, if you see people walking around, then you need to be in control of your speed and that speed is 20mph.”

In a statement in response to the issues raised in the meeting, PCC Clive Grunshaw said:

“Roads policing and keeping people safe on our county’s roads is a priority for us and included in my Police and Crime Plan. My office and I work with the others in the Road Safety Partnership, whose membership includes Lancashire County Council and Lancashire Constabulary, to help tackle dangerous driving in all its forms. This has included the introduction of average speed cameras, drink driving campaigns and other targeted activity.

“I am pleased to see the County Council agree with me that we need more investment back into policing here in Lancashire, something I have been consistently calling for. It cannot be fair that Lancashire is around 450 officers worse off than 2010 whilst other areas are better off, such as Surrey who are just over 100 officers better off than 2010. It is not fair that we continue to be short-changed like this and I’ve recently written to all Lancashire MPs to raise the issue in Parliament.

“The message is simple – we want our bobbies back. We need proper assurances about how policing will be funded in the long term and a fair funding settlement that reflects the unique circumstances Lancashire faces as a police service to keep people safe.”

Lancashire Constabulary was also approached for comment.