Enforcing 20mph speed limits would ‘clog up courts’ says officer

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Police are unable to enforce 20mph speed limits across Dunstable as it would clog up the courts, according to a traffic officer

After regularly witnessing motorists flouting the speed limit and dangerously overtaking near his home, Rob Stokes, of Beech Road, Dunstable, got in touch with Beds Police to ask for a mobile speed camera to patrol the area.

In a reply to Mr Stokes’ email, road policing unit traffic management officer John Loughlin admitted that the force had been “flooded” with complaints of a similar nature, blaming Central Beds Council for pressing ahead with speed reductions across the town “despite our objections”.

He wrote: “Police do not routinely police 20mph speed limits as the government guidelines say that roads should be engineered in such a way that the motorist cannot exceed the 20mph limit and be a burden to the authority of the police.

“Unfortunately councils choose to ignore these recommendations.

“Concerning 20mph limits, there is currently no Driver Improvement Scheme which operates for all other speed limits, thus meaning that any motorist caught travelling at 24mph or above either gets a fixed penalty ticket (£100 fine and three points on the licence or goes to court with possible disqualification).

“The latter option will also clog up the overworked court system.”

In a letter to Central Beds Council, Mr Loughlin added: “This is an example of the difficulties that have been created despite us emphasising that they (20mph limits) will not work.

“It is not appropriate for this authority to try and cover for the failure of inappropriate road schemes.”

Mr Stokes, 34, revealed his surprise at the response.

He told the Gazette: “If you do 20mph down my road you will get overtaken, it has happened to me and I have seen it alot of times as well.

“Even the buses come down past my home at far more than 20mph, it is an immediate danger to the people who live and park on this road.

“If anything the speed limit has made things more dangerous here as people get frustrated and start overtaking.

“I thought that the police needed to enforce the limit so I asked if they could get a mobile speed camera down here.

“I was extremely surprised with what Mr Loughlin said as he openly admitted they were opposed to the change.

“It means that we won’t be seeing any mobile speed cameras in the 20mph areas, which is now most of Dunstable.”

A Central Beds Council spokesman said: “We introduced 20mph zones in parts of Dunstable to reduce speeds and improve safety in line with Department for Transport recommendations.

“Overall this has been successful, with many areas showing a reduction in average speeds.

“However, motorists continue to speed in some areas, with no regard for their own safety or that of other road users, and this is a matter of great concern.

“We will continue to liaise closely with the police about how to resolve this, looking in particular to get the police to bring in a recognised training course for people speeding in 20mph zones, the introduction of which has been somewhat delayed.”

Beds Police said it has urged Central Beds Council to “implement traffic calming measures in 20 mile per hour zones”.