Lancashire’s 20 mph zones are still going under the police radar almost seven years after they were brought in, the Post can reveal.
Not a single speeding ticket has been issued since the restrictions were first introduced across the county in 2011 in an attempt to make residential streets safer.
We highlighted the problem a year ago and at that time police warned they would prosecute if their policy of “engagement and education” was not working.
But a year on the force has revealed there have still not been any penalty notices dished out to drivers for breaking 20 mph limits.
Lancashire Police insist they are “not complacent” about road safety. But, with limited resources, it is simply a matter of “priorities.”
One 20 mph neighbourhood where the lack of enforcement has sparked anger amongst residents is the Larches Estate in Preston.
We’ve had cameras here checking the speed of the traffic. But why hasn’t anyone been fined? It’s ridiculous.
Work started in December 2017 on introducing extra calming measures to slow drivers down. Speed cushions and a traffic table were put in place, particularly along Larches Lane which locals described as “a race track.”
Twelve months later we went back to talk to householders and heard many were branding the £40,000 project “a total waste of money.”
Indeed, highways bosses at county hall have now conceded the cushions are not working and will have to be improved to make them more of an obstacle to speedsters.
Barbara Pickup, who has lived in Larches Lane for 46 years, said: “Drivers are still flashing past my house. They drive between the speed cushions, or straddle them.
“We’ve had cameras here checking the speed of the traffic. But why hasn’t anyone been fined? It’s ridiculous.”
Lancashire has spent more than £9m on scores of 20 mph zones, mostly in residential areas.
Critics say that, considering the cost, motorists should be brought to book if they ignore them.
Yet when an e-petition was launched in the summer of 2016 calling on police to start enforcing the law, only nine people signed it in six weeks.
Last December a spokesman for Lancashire Police confirmed: “Engagement and education is key to ensuring that the public fully understand our work in this area.
“Where engagement and education does not work, then we can and will prosecute. But our ultimate aim is to keep everyone using the roads in Lancashire safe and to deal with incidents proportionately.”
Twelve months on the force issued a strikingly similar statement saying: “Where engagement and education does not work, we will consider prosecution, but our ultimate aim is to keep everyone using the roads in Lancashire safe and to deal with incidents proportionately.
“Officers encountering someone speeding within a 20 mph zone can issue a fixed penalty ticket, or deal with the matter by other means for example a summons, if appropriate.”
The latest statement went on: “Fortunately only a minority of collisions in Lancashire happen within these 20mph zones.
“We continue to work in partnership with the council and with our residents to identify those areas where they feel road safety is an issue.
“Due to the limited resources we have available, we have to prioritise where and how officers are deployed in order to maximise our efficiency.
“Deployments and tasking of road policing assets focus on collision hotspots where there is a frequent occurrence of serious injury, vulnerable road users or an increased link with criminality in the area.
“Engagement and education is key to ensuring that the public fully understand our work in this area and so that motorists are aware of the dangers around the ‘Fatal 4’ that persist in causing death and serious injury. These are drink driving, speeding, seat belt wearing and mobile phone use.
“We continue to run schemes like Schools Road Watch and Community Road Watch and work alongside the council to place speed indicator signs in any 20mph zones where further activity is required. We also work with the council to look at engineering options and traffic calming measures to gain habitual compliance in 20mph zones which we find become self-enforcing.
“We always endeavour to respond to local concerns in relation to excess speed and road safety, and we would urge anyone with concerns to get in touch with their local neighbourhood teams.”
LARCHES RESIDENTS GET THE HUMP
It was branded a race track and became Lancashire’s first 20 mph zone to warrant extra traffic calming measures.
But the £40,000 Larches Estate experiment is now being dismissed as “a waste of money” by some residents who claim revved up drivers are still speeding past their homes.
Now county hall is having another look at the concrete cushions which locals say have failed miserably to slow motorists down.
“They drive between the cushions, or straddle them,” said Barbara Pickup, who has lived in Larches Lane for 46 years.
“The ones near me are useless. They aren’t big enough or wide enough. Drivers are still flashing past my house.”
Larches Lane has had problems with speeding motorists for years. It was identified in 2011 as one of the first estate roads in Preston to need a 20 mph limit.
Concerns go back more than 20 years to June 1996 when fed-up residents demanded action to put a brake on drivers. At the time locals voiced fears someone would be killed if traffic calming measures were not introduced.
But it took until this year for the speed humps to arrive as part of a wider £1m accident reduction programme. And when they did, householders were left feeling “underwhelmed.”
Coun Gillian Oliver, who represents Preston South West on Lancashire County Council, said: “Some evaluation work has been done and the speed bumps are inadequate and not doing what they were designed to do - slow people down.
“The way they are built has to make it hard for motorists to negotiate them without slowing down. But at the same time it is a busy bus route and they haven’t got to affect the buses. So it is striking the right balance.
“There’s a really good community on Larches and they have been concerned about this for some time now. It has been a flagship project and it is disappointing it hasn’t worked. It’s got to work next time.”
Retired police officer Keith Hulme’s home looks out onto the junction between Larches Lane and Larches Avenue. County council workmen built a raised 27-metre long junction table there to put a brake on the speeders.
“That bit works OK, because it is big enough,” he said. “But you still get drivers hitting it without slowing down.
“Overall I don’t think the traffic calming has worked. It’s easy to drive between the humps without slowing down. And people do.”
Coun Keith Iddon, the county council’s cabinet member for highways and transport, said: “We’re aware of ongoing concerns about speeding on Larches Lane and are due to make improvements to the existing speed cushions early next year to force vehicles to slow down.
“The 20mph areas were introduced as part of a long-term approach to influencing drivers to slow down in residential areas to improve safety as well as making them places where people feel safer and are more likely to choose to walk, cycle, and allow children to be active and healthy.
“Where there are problems with speeding, we work closely with the police to consider the best solution in each particular location, which can include measures to educate and engage with drivers to encourage appropriate vehicle speeds in the areas.”
Four people have been seriously injured in smashes on the Larches Estate in four years - all of them believed to be speed-related.
In one of those a banned driver and his two passengers had to be airlifted to hospital and were lucky to survive after a car ploughed into a bus.
And only two months ago another bus, this time carrying schoolchildren, was hit by joyriders in a stolen vehicle. Luckily no-one was hurt.