Category Archives: Highways

20mph limit is more dangerous

20mph limit is more dangerous but too costly to reverse, council admits

Today, in the Daily Telegraph:

Reducing the speed limit to 20mph has caused a rise in death and serious injuries, a council has admitted, but is refusing to reverse the scheme because it will cost too much.

Bath and North East Somerset Council spent £871,000 bringing in the 13 new speed zones just 12 months ago.

But one year on, a report has found that the rate of people killed or seriously injured has gone up in seven out of the 13 new 20mph zones.

The review of the traffic control measures warns that this is a problem nationally, adding: “There is no simple explanation for this adverse trend but it could be that local people perceive the area to be safer due to the presence of the 20mph restrictions and thus are less diligent when walking and crossing roads, cycling or otherwise travelling.”

Despite the council’s own report concluding that there is “little in the way of persuasive argument for continuing the programme in the future”, deputy leader Patrick Anketell-Jones has admitted there simply isn’t the money available to reverse the 20mph zones.

The Conservative councillor said: “It has cost over £800,000 to roll out the 20mph zone and it would probably cost the same to reverse them.

“We just haven’t got the money. I’m pretty sure the 20mph zones will stay in place for the foreseeable future.”

It adds that the rise in casualty numbers and severity would “suggest against further expansion of area based schemes.”

In the 12 months since each 20mph zone was installed the rate of people killed or seriously injured has gone up in seven out of the 13 areas.

The reductions had been seen in central Bath whilst the worsening was largely in outlying rural areas.

The report added: “Casualty severity has worsened marginally in Bath and more so in outlying towns. Again, this is reflective of the national situation.”

This is not the first warning that 20mph areas are more dangerous. In 2010 the Department for Transport reviewed the scheme in Portsmouth, one of the first areas to adopt it, and found that number of people killed or seriously injured on affected roads actually went up, not down, after the limit was lowered.

Retired civil servant Simon Marshall, 58, from Lower Weston, called on Bath council to review the 20mph speed limits, calling them “unduly restrictive”.

And he said he was astonished to see the report and learn that the council couldn’t afford to reverse the zones, despite rising numbers of deaths and serious injuries.

He said: “The facts are that the numbers of people being killed and injured are going up since the zones were introduced.

“More people are being hurt because less people are taking care, and the council are saying that they can’t afford it.

“To my mind that’s saying that people are being seriously hurt but we are not prepared to stump up the cash to stop that happening.”

The Government’s current guidance remains that more traffic authorities should consider introducing the lower limits.

A nationwide review of 20mph limits published by the The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) last month concluded: “A large number of evaluation studies have demonstrated a link between the introduction of 20mph zones and a subsequent reduction in casualties. The size of the reductions and the consistency of results over a wide number of areas are further evidence for this link.”

However, their review pointed out that 20mph zones in which other traffic calming measures were introduced alongside the reduction in limit were much more effective.

In Bath and North East Somerset they brought in the changes with a speed reduction and signs to indicate it only.

The RoSPA report noted: “20mph limits without traffic calming also reduces traffic speed, although this effect is smaller than when they are introduced with traffic calming or other measures. Their lower cost means that wider areas can be covered.”

I believe this qualifies as a complete vindication of what I and others have been saying for the last few years. 20MPH zones, or “Twenty’s Plenty” not only don’t stack up, but actually make our communities more dangerous.

South Brink Speeding

South Brink Speeding

At the last Full Council meeting of Wisbech Town Council I proposed that the portion of South Brink which runs from Tesco up to the Malt Drive Estate would be a good place to benefit from this year’s Minor Highways bid.

One of the most common complaints I get as a Councillor is speeding and that section of South Brink is that part which causes the most concern in my Ward.  It is a “rat run” for people wanting to escape traffic along Cromwell Road and because it is long, quiet and very straight it seems to encourage fast and dangerous driving.  To compound the problem, this is an area which has an above average number of pedestrians and users of mobility scooters, many of whom feel threatened by the speed and carelessness they perceive in some drivers.

All year I have promised my constituents that I would try and get a Minor Highways Bid through to address this.  We took Speedwatch there on a few occasions and that helps a little, but what the road really needs are some speed reduction measures to discourage the temptation to race along there.

The County Councillor for the area, my friend and colleague Samantha Hoy, agreed with me and has seconded my proposal.  Town Council supported my proposal and it was put forwards to County Council as our official bid this year.

At this point I have kept it deliberately vague.  We have a meeting with the County Council Highways Officers on-site next week to look at what measures would be best and what can be afforded within the limits of the Minor Highways scheme.  But I am very pleased to be able to keep my promise and push this another stage towards resolution.

Meanwhile, Through The Looking Glass

Meanwhile, Through The Looking Glass

I have never really thought of Cllr. Paul Clapp as a political mastermind, but I have to give it to him.  His latest piece of spin is truly exceptional in both its avoidance and sheer gall.  I probably should be surprised that a local newspaper would give it the time of day, but I’m not. :)  Here it is: Link

This is what it says:

Faded white lines on a busy zebra crossing in Wisbech are to be re-painted after eight months of what a councillor has said had become a potential death trap.

The crossing in Churchill Road, that takes pedestrians from the Horsefair shopping centre to the garage on the other side, is to see the lines re-instated by county council workers on Friday August 26.

“With the lines faded, motorists new to the area had no idea it was a crossing point and people have been reporting near misses for months, said councillor Paul Clapp.

“I’m delighted it’s being repainted but it should never have got that bad in the first place.

“I’ve nearly been squashed there countless times and I know of plenty others in the same situation. It was like a death trap.”

He added: “It’s all down to Government cuts slowing down essential work such as this.”

Other work being carried out on the same day includes a keep clear sign being re-instated in Norwich road at the junction with Kennedy Court and white line painting in Wisbech North.

Councillor Virginia Bucknor said “The crossing is in a terrible condition but in addition it is very poorly designed for how busy that roundabout is now.

“It was put there 30 years ago when Wisbech didn’t have half the traffic of today.

“The town has gone from a population of 20,000 to more than 44,000 yet the highways infrastructure has been neglected for decades and cannot cope.”

A pedestrian trying to cross in 2016 was a very different story to one crossing thirty years ago due to traffic volume, she added.

And this is what I would propose it SHOULD say:

Faded white lines on a busy zebra crossing in Wisbech are to be re-painted after eight months of County Councillor failure to address a potential death trap.

The crossing in Churchill Road, that takes pedestrians from the Horsefair shopping centre to the garage on the other side, is to see the lines re-instated by county council workers on Friday August 26.

“With the lines faded, motorists new to the area had no idea it was a crossing point and people have been reporting near misses for months, is what could have been said by councillor Paul Clapp, who is the elected County Councillor for the area and whose job it is to make sure this sort of work gets done in a timely fashion so that people are not put at risk. “Why are you blaming the Government for your inability to do your job?” a balanced and investigative reporter interested in the truth could have asked.

“I’m delighted it’s being repainted but it should never have got that bad in the first place. If only I had been able to do the very thing that I was elected to do. Ah well, never mind.”

“I’ve nearly been squashed there countless times and I know of plenty others in the same situation. It was like a death trap. Somebody needs to get hold of the person responsible and give them a piece of their mind. Has anybody got a mirror?

He could have added: “It’s all down to Government cuts slowing down essential work such as this.” The fact that the work is being done may seem to prove that it had nothing at all to do with “Government Cuts” and more to do with bureaucracy and effective representation, but that’s definitely not the case. Nope. No Chance At all. Ahem.

Councillor Virginia Bucknor could have said “The crossing is in a terrible condition but in addition it is very poorly designed for how busy that roundabout is now. If my current County Councillor was a Conservative I’d be quick to lay the blame, but since its UKIP and I’m terrified they might stand against me in an election because I know I’d lose, I’ll not mention the Councillor at all.”

“The town has gone from a population of 20,000 to more than 44,000 yet the highways infrastructure has been neglected for decades and cannot cope. If only there were people we elected to County Council to make sensible decisions about spending priorities….”

Nevertheless, nice work Paul.  It’s like a shopkeeper moaning about the window displays in their own shop.  “Nobody is buying anything!  If only I had a better window display!”  :)

Anybody would think there was an election coming next year.  :)

Return Of Twenty’s Plenty

Return Of Twenty’s Plenty

The old “20 is Plenty” appears to be making a reappearance for 2016.  I can only guess the delightful lady of Waterlees and her honourable and respectful husband have run out of ideas.  But in a way I do feel for them.  They can hardly complain about Constantine House anymore, the place they and their supporters didn’t believe would ever be repaired.  Because it’s repaired.

They can’t go after Garry Tibbs and Rob McLaren about The Bell pub site and the Old Football Ground in Kirkgate given that those two have managed to get more movement on those issues in their first year as a team than the previous gentleman Councillor did in seven years.

They can’t change the name of their Ward again.  Virginia Bucknor has previously said that changing the name “Waterlees” to “Waterlees Village” would “bring the community together.”  You may or may not agree with that, dear reader, but the fact is they’ve already done it so they really can’t do it again.  Unless they change the name to Waterlees World or something, but that sounds a little too much like a theme park.

They could add to their “Jobtrack” statistics if they wanted to, though I think that people have long since seen through the truth in those tiny tiny characters on their website.

No, they really want to make Highways their issue. They could volunteer for Speedwatch, but that would mean admitting that our new Speedwatch Committee was quite a good idea and I guess that just wouldn’t do, would it?  So the old “20s Plenty” paperwork is taken from some rusty filing cabinet and the ropey statistics and weak arguments given a dust down.

As usual they attempt to claim that the opposition just said “no” for the sake of it.  They do seem to enjoy playing the victim.  In fact, as they well know, we debated, discussed and wrote extensively about their scheme and the opposition to it was logical and fairly considered.  (Please see bottom for previous blog posts about the issue.)

But here’s where they fell down last time and where they will no doubt fall down again.  At no time have any of the rest of us opposed their scheme for Waterlees.  Although most people I know think it is a bonkers idea which will cost money and achieve next to nothing, it’s their ward.  They are the elected Councillors.  If they want to squander money on signs that everybody will ignore and the Police broadly will not enforce, that’s up to them.

But, and this can’t be said enough times, highways is a COUNTY COUNCIL function.  The Bucknors need to stop trying to get money out of the Town Council for road signs and changes.  They continually extol the virtues of Cllr Alan Lay and Cllr Paul Clapp, who are their friends and allies.  These guys are County Councillors.  All they have to do to implement their plan for Waterlees is to get their County Councillors to get them the cash and they can go right ahead.  It’s very hard to see how this could be any more obvious.  They and their County Council friends should just get on and do it and stop all the endless talking about it.

Previous posts:

Consultation On Streetlighting

Consultation On Streetlighting

Cambridgeshire County Council wishes to achieve financial savings of approximately £272,000 by switching off street lights across Cambridgeshire between midnight and 6.00 am each day.

Under this proposal a total of 1,449 street lights would be affected in Wisbech; and Wisbech Town Council has been asked whether it would be prepared to contribute financially towards the cost of retaining streetlighting during those hours, on particular roads within the town, with effect from the financial year 2016/17.

The cost of retaining full operation of the 1,449 street lights would be £12 per light per annum (increasing by inflation and fuel costs each year), plus an annual administrative charge of £65. The total cost for 2016/17 would be £17,403.00.

In order for Wisbech Town Council to decide whether to meet this cost, they wish to know what the residents of Wisbech think about the proposal.
If the decision is made to fund full illumination, this would become part of the Wisbech Town Council budget proposals for 2016/2017. If an increase in the annual Parish Precept was required, this would be an increase of 8.4%

Please see the Council website for the figures for what this would cost your Band of household.

If you are a Wisbech Parish Council Tax payer you can make your views known by completing the survey below. For your vote to be counted, you must include your name, address and postcode – details will only be used to verify residency in Wisbech Parish.

The deadline for your views is 5pm on Friday 25 September.
The majority view will be a strong guide to the council’s decision, and the results of the survey will be published in the Minutes.

Just Admit It

Just Admit It

On ShapeYourPlace Cllr. Virginia Bucknor (Independent) says:

“Hi Mike, I’m having the same problem with CCC Highways. I reported a really serious hole in a road in Waterlees on 1st May, they acknowledged with a Highways ref number and nothing further.

I’ve chased them via a senior CCC officer and still no reply – and the hole is of course even bigger and more dangerous – particularly for motorbikes – as all this rain fills up the holes so they can’t see to avoid.
I just don’t know HOW to get a response.”

Ladies and gentlemen, at what point will these collaborators admit that the UKIP County Councillors are not doing their job?

Virginia Bucknor – for all that we are not pals – is a competent and diligent Councillor. But it should not be up to her to chase “a very senior officer”, it should be up to the County Councillor.

Virginia Bucknor is in regular contact with the UKIP fellows. They came along to support her 20MPH Project at Town Council recently. Yet while she complains about the “lack of response” from a “senior Council Officer” she does not even mention the UKIP County Councillor?

Back when Samantha Hoy was the County Councillor – Cllr. Bucknor would not have been hesitant to complain about performance and lay the blame where it would have belonged – at the elected County Councillors door. But she would not have had the opportunity because Sam Hoy did the job she was elected to do.

How many times do people have to say: “What’s going on with Highways?” “Why are these repairs so badly handled?” “What has happened to County Council” before they are forced to admit that what has happened is exactly what we warned would happen? But nope – they’ll keep excusing these Councillors because to do otherwise would be to admit they were wrong. And that’s never gonna happen.

Sidenote:  How, precisely, will Clapp & Lay deliver tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of pounds from the County Council coffers to switch all our town’s signs to 20MPH if CCC can’t even answer a question about a pothole in a timely fashion anymore?

I’ve Heard 20MPH All Before

This post has been submitted by a contributor. The author of this guest post would like to stress that it an expression of personal opinion and does not represent the opinion, official or otherwise, of any official body or authority, of the owner of this blog (Steve Tierney) or of any other person or institution. (Future guest posts by other contributors would certainly be seriously considered. If you are interested – email Steve Tierney with details of what you’d like to write about.)

This particular Guest Post is written by Cllr. Sam Hoy, until recently the Mayor Of Wisbech, who is both a Town & District Councillor and has arguably the most experience in different roles of any Councillor in Wisbech, given that she has served on Town, District, County and the Fire Authority, as well as holding roles at both a local, area and regional level within her political party.

I’ve Heard 20MPH All Before

When I was County Councillor for Wisbech North, part of my area covered Waterlees and so the idea of 20MPH Speed Zone isn’t new to me. At one local meeting it was brought up that there had previously been a petition to get a 20MPH limit in Waterlees and it was presented to the County Council but nothing came of it.  The man who had organised it said he believed there was a need for it and whilst I had my doubts on it I understood I am there to represent the people – not my own views. Because of this I asked him to bring me another petition, the previous one had been used some years ago and I felt we needed an up-to-date one to see if the feeling was still the same. (This was when petitions actually meant something and hadn’t been devalued by over-use, unnecessary use and abuse.)  The petition never came, I don’t know if this was because there wasn’t enough support or some other reason but I still thought I would go and do my research on the issue, couldn’t hurt.

The first thing I did was to ask if we had some way of measuring the speed people were travelling in the area so we knew how much of an issue speeding was. We tried Speedwatch but people complained that it was too obvious as people saw it and slowed down.  So I contacted officers at the council and they explained they had these boxes we could use which covertly measure speed.  They had five in the whole of Cambridgeshire and as I needed them all I had to wait for a few months, but we did indeed get them!  I requested that they were put on the roads that I had the most complaints about speeding on which were; St Michael’s Avenue, Bath Road, Grosvenor Road, Ollard Avenue and Walton Road.  These boxes were down for two weeks and after this we looked at the results which showed that the average speed on each road was 26MPH or less.  So this didn’t appear to indicate that there was this speeding issue.

From driving around the area myself I didn’t understand how on some of the roads people were managing to speed as there were often so many parked cars you couldn’t speed if, for some reason, you wanted to.  I also met with the police who said they did not have the resources to enforce any limit that was put in.  I went back to the residents and Councillors Bucknor and explained all of this to them but they still wanted me to press on – so I went back to Officers to speak about options that were available.

There are two options available, a 20MPH LIMIT and a 20MPH ZONE.  These are very different to one another.

20mph Limits

These ARE legally enforceable by the police, a traffic regulation order would go in the local ‘paper to advertise the change and take any objections to the proposal.  If that went okay then new signs would need to be installed and repeater signs are legally required to remind people of the limit.  This is not very cheap as it requires lots of signs but it does mean the police can ticket those speeding – although they said they didn’t have the resources so that’s tricky!  The “20’s Plenty” campaign which campaigns for 20MPH everywhere says that the problem with limits is that there is “Nothing to stop drivers exceeding limit other than responsibility, other limit-conforming drivers and enforcement” so as we have no enforcement it’s just down to responsibility, yet allegedly people are already irresponsibly speeding so why would they suddenly stop? I know perhaps it’s because they will all agree that 20mph is the right speed to have, doubtful though as the Institute of Advanced Motorists found 55% of drivers don’t support 20MPH.

20mph Zones

These aren’t enforceable so if motorists break them and do the speed they want nothing can be done about it.  So hard to see how they will work – I mean people allegedly don’t stick to Thirty so why would they now stick to Twenty? Well I will tell you, whilst the Bucknors tell you this is a cheap easy scheme that can be done with a couple of signs at entrances to key roads, everyone else will tell you that’s not the case. Highways experts and the “20s Plenty campaign” themselves say that to have a chance of working zones MUST have physical speed reduction measures to work such as chicanes or speed bumps. Except there is a huge problem with all of this… in Wisbech I had many complaints about speed bumps in Clarkson Avenue causing vibrations and damaging people’s houses, so infuriated were the residents that they demanded their removal, so how can humps be an option for Waterlees?

The other option of a chicane has been tried on Walton Road, also with problems as residents don’t ever want the chicane directly outside their house which causes an issue, and when they are in residents said they found cars weren’t slowing down for them or were going slow through them and then speeding up. There is also general uncertainty as to whether the zones in general even work at all!  Just two days ago this was being discussed with an article in the Telegraph stating that these zones make rat running worse (

There is also a key difference in funding options. The county said they would only fund a limit reduction if the traffic was already travelling close to the new limit, they gave a figure of 10% so traffic would have to be travelling at 22mph or slower, Waterlees was just outside that.  I thought this sounded a bit odd to only fund it if people are already close to the limit but guidance from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents suggests “20mph limits are most appropriate for roads where average speeds are already low, and the guidance suggests below 24mph. The layout and use of the road must also give the clear impression that a 20mph speed or below is the most appropriate.” It believed that a limit wasn’t the way to go as it was unenforceable and not recommended from a highways perspective. The officers felt that a 20MPH zone may work but there would need to be a significant number of traffic calming measures to make it work which they estimated to be £500,000 given the amount of them that would be needed in an area as large as Waterlees. They did suggest that the Town Council could pay but the vast cost seemed out of reach for a Town Council so that option was ruled out.

They did however explain that the Wisbech Market Town Transport Strategy was there and had a pot of funding to allow for major schemes in the town in the future. This sounded great! What a winner I was onto!  I was however very cautious that I didn’t feel that this would work, I really was worried that we would have a zone that no one would stick to so we would have the same complaints we get now, yet on top of this we would have complaints about the traffic calming measures, it seemed a really really bad idea.  I had in the back of my mind that residents had asked for this and I am there to represent them and so I thought of a way forward, get the idea of a 20MPH Zone into the strategy so it was there before the deadline passed but put in that we needed to have a consultation first in which we fully outlined what this Zone involved so people knew all the facts. Then, if residents really did want it then we could go on and spend the money.
However, I then lost the election and couldn’t continue so there it sat.  It is still in the Strategy though – ready to go – so I was very confused indeed when I saw the proposal to Town Council.  I mean what can we do about it?  The County are funding it if the consultation comes out in favour so why would the Town Council fund it?  Makes no sense!

All I can think is one of two things, the first thing could be that Virginia Bucknor doesn’t think she will get the new County Councillor’s support?  But it is her job to convince him and then for for him to do his job.  The Town Council can’t fund something that isn’t done due to incompetence or the inability of the local District and County Councillors to talk to each other and fulfil their roles. The second reason could be that she knows it isn’t as popular as she thinks with motorists but she loves the Nanny State “something must be done” attitude and knows it will get her a headline in the paper and a chance to bash the “nasty” Tories.  Maybe it is none of these, maybe I am just cynical?  But I will tell you one thing for sure… anyone that tries to look at this issue reasonably won’t get met with reason, they will be met with “You want kids to die” or “Those other Parties just don’t care” or some other colourful rhetoric.  Truth is I don’t want anyone to get run over – adult or child – but I do think we must be realistic about things.  The argument for 20MPH often goes that it will make it less likely for a person to die but on that logic we may as well ban cars all together as that would have a 100% success rate stopping people getting run over!

The Bucknors’ Big Problem

The Bucknors’ Big Problem

Yesterday I wrote a long piece talking about the idea of 20MPH speed limits that is being proposed by Cllrs Bucknor and Bucknor.  My main feeling is that if there is a problem with speeding, it’s better tackled with hard speed reduction measures than some new signs for people to ignore.

But it doesn’t really matter what I think.  The Bucknors are bringing this issue to Town Council even though it’s really nothing to do with Town Council.  You could argue that they’d like the “weight” of Town Council behind them as they take the Campaign forwards.  Or you could argue that it’s a good way to get some headlines on a campaign.  Depending on how cynical you felt about their motives.

But this entirely misses the point and the point is this.  Speeding is a Highways issue.  Highways is a County Council issue.  All four local County Councillors belong to UKIP.  So in order to push forwards 20MPH zones, the Bucknors don’t need Town Council’s approval.  They need the approval of four ‘Kipper Councillors and their larger UKIP group at County Council.

So the question they should be asking is: What do UKIP think about 20MPH zones?

Here’s your answer:

From the Birmingham Mail:-

Birmingham councillors have ignored fierce opposition to roll out plans for a city wide 20 mph speed limit on residential roads.

The council’s cabinet has voted to plough ahead with a pilot scheme for inner city areas which it claims will improve road safety and make streets more attractive to pedestrians and cyclists.

But there has been opposition from UKIP members, who staged an anti-20mph limit protest outside the council house on Monday, and from the Conservatives who called for the limits to be focused on areas around schools and high streets – where the majority of accidents take place.

Cabinet member for a safer city Coun James McKay said that although 60 per cent of residents had opposed the limit he believed that they had misunderstood the detailed proposal.

He said: “There will not be 20mph limits on main roads and because of that the feared increase in journey times is very low.”

He said that pilot schemes in the central and south of the city area would demonstrate to road users how they work before the limit is rolled out further afield.

The pilots are likely to start in places like Moseley and Selly Oak where support for the limits was highest before being rolled out to more sceptical parts of the city.

Tory deputy leader Coun Robert Alden (Cons, Erdington) said: “People are particularly in favour of 20mph limits outside schools and high streets. It’s a shame you are not looking to focus around them.”

But Coun McKay said that a ‘pepperpot’ of 20mph limits and 30mph limits would confuse motorists.

UKIP spokesman Keith Rowe, said: “We are opposing this measure which we feel will increase journey times, increase costs to the motorist and to businesses, add to pollution, add to driver anger and frustration and cost £7 million to set up.”

He also questioned whether it would deter dangerous drivers.

“Birmingham has a great motoring heritage and our council should be helping traffic to flow safely,” he added.

Following the decision to go ahead the first 20mph limits will be installed, following consultation with local communities, by this time next year.

Sounds familiar, huh?  A bunch of Lefties trying to impose wide 20MPH Controls, despite 60% of the population being against them.  Even saying that the 60% who are against them must “not understand” the argument (unbelievable arrogance, common on the Left.)  Massive populist opposition from UKIP, via a petition (yep, that old favourite of ‘Kippers everywhere.)  A small handful of sensible Conservatives saying: “Why don’t we just solve the actual problems, instead of all these militant positions on everything?”

Anyway, here’s UKIP Walsall wheeling out (excuse the pun) their “motoring expert” to bash a potential 20MPH speed limit.

What I find particularly fascinating is that if the ‘Kippers DO throw national policy to the wind and throw in with the Bucknors – they’d then be the ones who had to secure the funding and push through the policy at County Council.  If they succeeded they’d have proven UKIP’s various national policy claims to be lies.  If they failed to get through a policy they’d jointly championed, they’d look completely and utterly ineffectual.

So here’s the thing the Bucknors need to contend with.  They are proposing a Highways Policy that UKIP have shown themselves to be strongly opposed to across the country on numerous occasions.  All four of their County Councillors are UKIP.  So, either the local ‘Kippers have to demonstrate that they don’t share the beliefs of their colleagues across the country or the Bucknors have a big problem.

Is Twenty Plenty?

Is Twenty Plenty?

These are my personal views only and are not representative of any group, party or other people with whom I am sometimes associated.

Personally, I’m of the view that the Wisbech Independent Party (or WHIP, as I call them) invent a new Campaign every time an election draws near in order to get their mugs in the paper.  But that’s just my cynical view.  No doubt I’m just imagining it.

This week we have them “spearheading” the “Twenty Is Plenty” Campaign to create 20MPH speed restrictions across large sections of Wisbech.  How you can spearhead something that is just the two of you is a mystery to me.  There’s no spear that I can see.  Just the spearhead.  But there you go.

My slight problems with “Twenty Is Plenty.”

(1)  Wrong target
It’s not the people driving at 29 or 30 who you’re really after. It’s the ones that zoom down at 60MPH on a motorbike which screams like a banshee.  Or the ones that take corners at 50MPH while their exhausts roars like some prehistoric monster.  Those people who are already ignoring the 30MPH Speed Limit and will similarly ignore any lower speed limit.  Because they don’t care what the speed limit is.  They just want to go really, really fast.

(2)  Immense Cost
There are laws about Speed Limits, you see.  Laws which require a certain amount of signage and other conditions – which are not cheap.  For the same money as you spend putting up a load of signs for everybody to ignore, you could spend some money implementing speed control measures that might actually work.  But no, let’s litter the roads with signs that will only be heeded by the sensible drivers – who weren’t the problem in the first place.

(3)  Knock On Effects
There are studies which show that people who feel forced to drive slower than the road merits are more likely to then speed up too fast as soon as they clear the obstacle.  These subtle effects are significant enough that Highways Officers take average and top speeds travelled as a integral condition before changing speed limits in most cases.  In short – if you affect the problem at all, you may simply exacerbate and move it elsewhere.

(4)  Public demand?
We’re assured that the public are “behind this idea” – but there’s no evidence this is the case.  As Cllr. Bucknor herself points out to the newspaper, there are 5000 people living in Waterlees, four thousand of which are adults.  In many years of being a Councillor, I’ve had people moan about speeding many times, and often asked for help reducing a speed limit.  But usually from 60 to 40, or from 40 to 30, because they don’t feel the speed limit is correct for the road conditions.  Nobody has ever asked me to support a 20MPH limit, except outside schools.  (I do support them outside schools.)

(5)  The Police Wont Enforce It
Now tell me dear reader, knowing what you know about people – if there’s a new law implemented that seeks to change people’s behaviour in some fundamental way – and everybody knows the Police have no intention of enforcing it, how likely are people to take it seriously and obey it?  Answers on a postcard please.

Cllr. Bucknor says “Twenty is plenty is happening all across the country including in parts of Cambridge.”  I think “all across the country” is a bit of a stretch.  But they certainly have tried it in a few places.

Here’s the Worthing Herald explaining how the Police “Won’t enforce 20MPH Speed Limits there.”

Sussex Police does not expect to commit extra resources to policing the proposed new limits.

A spokesman said: “While Sussex Police is able to enforce any legally established speed limit, we do not routinely expect to enforce 20mph limits because as part of the consultation in the implementation of the 20mph limit, the new area should comply with the Department for Transport guidelines for self enforcing schemes.

Here’s the London Evening Standard explaining that the Police won’t enforce the 20MPH speed limit in Islington.

Police told councillors that it was too expensive to spend their time on the policy and they would not crack down on motorists if residents complained.

The zones will in effect be self-policing, using 20mph road signs until the council and Met reach an agreement.

And here’s the Islington Gazette repeating it’s message about Police refusing to enforce a bit later.  Note the nearly half million cost of doing this on only twenty-five roads!  Makes £30,000 for some Christmas Lights look like crumbs from the table, doesn’t it?

Last night, the council’s executive committee voted through a £423,000 plan to make the 25 main roads under its control – such as Hornsey Road, Blackstock Road and Caledonian Road –subject to the limit.  It will come into effect when the new signs are installed in March. The council has already made all its residential roads subject to the limit.

The Metropolitan Police has objected and is being backed by Department for Transport guidelines. They state that 20mph limits should only be introduced in roads where the average speed is less than 25mph and where measures such as bumps or chicanes stop the traffic going any faster.

Here’s the Hull Daily Mail carrying a story that the Police are campaigning to raise the speed limit from 20MPH to 30MPH because they can’t enforce it.

Humberside Police want a 30mph speed limit outside the school at Fangfoss because they do not enforce 20mph restrictions.

Police say raising the speed limit will help them with enforcement.

Here’s the influential bikeradar website carrying their story that the Police don’t enforce 20MPH speed limits.

A senior police officer admitted yesterday that 20mph speed limits – in place in residential areas in many of the UK’s biggest cities – are not being enforced.

The revelation was made in front of the Get Britain Cycling inquiry, by Mark Milsom of the Association of Chief Police Officers, who told the cross party peers and MPs, “We are not enforcing 20mph speed limits at this moment in time.”


Up in Dundee there’s a Councillor pushing for 20MPH zones too.  Here’s The Courier talking about it.

Mr Macpherson has been in touch with council officers several times in recent years in an effort to encourage more speed limit cuts.

A letter he received from transportation head Neil Gellatly explained that policy was to prioritise pedestrian accident injury sites for analysis and treatment prior to any consideration of further 20mph sites.

“This policy essentially targets the council’s limited resources to locations where injury accident are occurring rather than installing traffic calming on roads where there is no injury accident history.”

Scottish Government guidance suggested expensive engineering works would be needed to provide traffic calming that would be self-enforcing and would not require additional police enforcement.

“… the introduction of 20mph limits would likely run into millions of pounds and in some areas it would provide little benefit in injury accident reduction as accident levels are already low,” Mr Gellatly said.

“… It has been Dundee City Council’s policy for nearly 10 years not to implement signed-only 20mph speed limits as there is evidence that these schemes typically reduce speeds by between one and two miles per hour as the streets already have relatively low traffic speeds,” he said.

Here’s the Watford Observer bemoaning the ridiculous cost of such a scheme.

The costs involved in making Watford a 20mph town have been described as “absolutely ludicrous” by a Conservative county councillor.

Last year Phil Bibby, the county council’s deputy cabinet member for highways and transport, said only smaller 20mph zones would be considered, as a blanket speed cut was felt to be “not appropriate” for Watford.

During the meeting, members of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee raised concerns over the prices proposed to develop the scheme throughout the county, which could run into millions.

Councillor Tony Hunter said: “I am trying to get my head around the actual costing. Previously we had heard that it would be done with just road signs, markings on the roads and consultation. The costings are absolutely ludicrous. Where will these costs come from?”

 Representatives from the Cambridge 20mph Project presented their findings to the committee.  Andrew Preston, from the Cambridge project, said they had a capital budget of £400,000 but the costing of implementation, which is currently ongoing, is looking to be nearer £600,000.


I was puzzled why the fact that “parts of Cambridge” might implement 20MPH zones should merit special consideration?  Of course Cambridge wants to do it – it’s full of Labour and Liberal Democrats and Greens who don’t much like cars and really love cycling.  The Northern end of the County is as different to the Southern end, political sensibilities speaking, as chalk and cheese.  But still, it’s a fair point.  After all, Cambridge is trying to do it.

Here’s Cambridge Cycling Blogspot talking about it this year:

Ages back I said that we’re getting a 20mph limit, sort of, except that its a bit crap.

Well we’ve got it now, at least in North Cambridge, and its crap.

Its crap because our police force have no intention of enforcing it. They never did really, so councillors who believe in the 20mph limit and some residents go together to set this as a police priority in Cambridge North Area, at one of the regular committee meetings where such things are set – and subsequently the Police have said they’ll only enforce 20mph limits in exceptonal circumstances (or ‘never’ if they’re honest).

So we’ve got a 20mph limit coming in across Cambridge. This is absurdly popular, despite the 20mph limitation of not being imposed on some of the more hazardous roads. The only stalling point appears to be our police force; even Graham Bright, our Police Commisioner who is a notorious anti-cycling, pro-motor lobby apologist for bad road policing is in favour of policing this.

So democratically elected councillors call for it. Our MP is in favour of the 20mph limits. Our ‘democratically elected’ (fogey with a blue rosette chosen by fenland villages, to be exact) police commissioner wants it enforced and the people of Cambridge when polled are overwhelmingly supportive of it. Yet the Police don’t particularly like it so they’re not enforcing it. So when I ride my bike home through 20mph roads at approaching that speed later, I’ll be forced against the kerb by angry motorists who still think doing 35mph is okay.

Clearly, tens of thousands of pounds well spent.

Here’s my old pal Richard Taylor talking about the Council’s change in priorities back in 2012, after imposing the new limits.

Councillors at Cambridge’s West/Central Area Committee on the 23rd of August 2012 voted to drop enforcing the city centre’s 20mph speed limits as a police priority.

A vote was held, and only two councillors, Whitebread and Nesthinga, supported retaining 20mph enforcement as a local police priority.

But to be entirely fair this argument has been raging back and forwards for a while.  I just think it’s a shame that we’re prepared to waste time and money arguing, and possibly implementing what amounts to just another lot of signs.  If signage were the problem, people wouldn’t speed at all.  But they do.  Some people believe that drivers go “a bit over the speed limit” and so reducing it would have a knock-on effect and reduce their speeding too.  But that’s not what repeated studies show.  In fact, drivers who are inclined to speed fall broadly (not absolutely) into two categories.  (1)  The ones who just want to go fast and don’t care about the law.  And (2) the ones who are driving at what they consider a safe speed based on the road, conditions and other drivers.  Neither of these groups will slow down because the speed limit suddenly changes from 30MPH to 20MPH.

If you want to keep people and kids safe – and I’m sure we all do – it may be necessary to do more.  But first we must confirm, with hard evidence, that there is a speeding problem on a given road. Then we should use road engineering and hard speed reduction measures which reduce speed.  Not some new number on dozens of colourful signs for racers, thrill-seekers and bad drivers to ignore.

If you genuinely want to solve the problem of speeding there are things you can do.  If all you want is a campaign to get your name in the newspapers because an election has appeared on the horizon, I suppose a trite slogan is just the thing.  I remember a couple of years ago when it was “Thirty for a reason.”  Now, apparently, “Twenty Is Plenty.”  I predict, next year, “Ten will be Zen”, or “Five Will Keep You Alive.”  It’s catchy.

Letter About Wisbech Town Bridge

Letter About Wisbech Town Bridge

In response to a number of requests from constituents to write to County Council about the problems on the town bridge regarding the works there I sent the following letter about 10 days ago. I present my letter and the response for the purposes of public information.

Dear Sir,

I write on behalf of constituents who have been contacting me regularly in regards to the work on and around Wisbech Town Bridge.

The concerns include what is perceived to be poor planning and scheduling with other works, the sheer time being taken with no mitigation to help businesses and individuals badly affected by the delays, the fact that it is rare anybody is seen working there, and the very poor communication with residents by County Council and the County Councillors (who nobody has heard anything from at all about this.)

Could you please respond urgently with answers to the following questions:-

(1) Could the bridge not have been opened at rush hour or in the evening to alleviate the massive jams?

(2) Why are so many pieces of work being scheduled at the same time, causing chaos and delay?

(3) Why is the County Council not giving regular updates as to the progress and final resolution of the works?

(4) When will the bridge be re-opened?

(5) Why does it seem that no work is going on there, either on the bridge or under it, for such long periods of time?

(6) Will the County Council consider any sort of compensation for the businesses who are badly affected by this?

(7) Why has nobody heard from the County Councillors – who were elected to represent the people of Wisbech on Highways issues (amongst other things?)


Cllr Steve Tierney
– Wisbech Town Council, Peckover Ward

And this is the response I have received today.

Hi Cllr Tierney,

Thank you for contacting CCC. To offer a brief summary of the works; The South Brinks works, which require the Town Bridge closure started on 3rd March 2014. These works and previous phases of works are being completed to improve and maintain the River Nene flood wall defences; which prevented Wisbech flooding earlier in the year from a storm surge tide. The bridge closure is required to allow for working space, material deliveries and safety of both the work force and the general public. Work is being completed efficiently by the contractor whilst constrained to normal working hours due to neighbouring businesses, hotels and irregular tidal patterns. During the bridge closure; to limit future disruption, CCC is also taking the opportunity to complete concrete repairs to the bridge, pedestrian barrier repairs, installation of protective bollards and carriageway resurfacing of the bridge deck.

To answer your questions and further your understanding, the reconfiguration of the five way traffic signals and signal head removal took five hours to complete, in addition to removing all safety fencing, materials, site cabins etc. Whilst I appreciate work is not being completed in the evenings; it would be impossible to reopen the bridge at these times; let alone extremely costly.

Multiple work elements have been planned with a holistic project management approach to limit overall disruption. In completing works together; efficiencies, time savings and therefore cost savings are recognised and the general public are not confused with multiple closures. I’m sure you and your constituents appreciate an overall reduced 10-12 week closure of the bridge rather than 14-16 weeks?

CCC do not generally update with regards to planned works; unless scope change/ creep has occurred. I did have communications with the Town Council regarding this. As feedback with future schemes of this nature, I will request that the contractor places information boards of planned works for the week.

With reference to site progress and re-opening of the bridge, the wailing beam concrete encapsulation is complete, formwork stripped, sheet pile painting is complete, the working platform has been removed, concrete repairs completed and pedestrian barrier repairs in progress. The contractor has made good progress with favourable tides/ water levels and weather. The planned reopening date was 6th June; however if progress continues at the current rate; the bridge could be re-opened on Friday 23rd May. I’d appreciate at this stage if the earlier date is not widely publicised; to manage public expectation.

Work has been being completed during the whole closure. I had similar complaints from other local stakeholders; to which a meeting was held and they accepted that work was being completed. Due to the grit blasting and painting operations the working platform and scaffolding were fully encapsulated to allow for drying of materials and manage environmental risks. During our site visit, on average 8 operatives were working within this confined space; which is out of the view of the public. When I visited site yesterday, a 17 ton excavator was on the bridge, a 5 ton excavator, 3 work vans and approximately 5 ton of scaffolding.

As you maybe aware; CCC does not consider compensation for road closures. The House of Commons released a paper in 2010 explaining the background to compensation claims in relation to road works. The summary was that there is no compensation if a business/ resident is affected by road works. Successive governments have taken the view that businesses should not have the right in law to any particular given level of passing trade, and that traders must take the risk of loss due to temporary disruption to traffic flows along with all the other risks of running a business. There is no statutory provision for compensation by the highway authority (as opposed to a utility) if a business/ individual is affected by road works. During the works, pedestrian access has been maintained.

I’m afraid I can not answer on behalf of the local County Councillors. You will have to contact them directly.

I hope this aids your understanding of the works and offers enough information to feedback to your constituents. If you require any further information, please do not hesitate in contacting me.

Adam Cobb IEng MICE
Engineer (Bridges) – Local Projects