SpID for Whittington

Residents living in the centre of the village are concerned about the speed of traffic past their houses.  It has been discussed by the Parish Council over a considerable number of years without any action being taken to try to secure a reduction in speeds.

The question was raised at the Parish Assembly on May 8th which was attended by five residents.  The Chairman agreed with the points listed below.

  1. The existing 30mph speed limit is too high given both the poor access onto Main Street from adjacent properties and lack of safe footpaths for much of the length of Main Street.
  2. Previous traffic surveys have shown that traffic speeds were rarely in excess of the existing speed limit.
  3. There had been no accidents on Main Street as a result of excessive speed.
  4. Although a speed limit of 20mph would be desirable it was possible that this could not be imposed by the County Council, there was also some doubt about the enforcement of lower speed limits.

Prior to the Parish Assembly in May 2017 the PC had discussed the possibility of installing a Speed Indicating Device but the PC minutes do not record any discussion in relation to the potential effectiveness of such devices nor do they record any information about the question of costs and funding.  There is no record of any discussions with the Highways Authority about the problem nor about other measures which might be taken

The Chairman admitted that he had no idea about the costs of purchasing and maintaining a SpID but he was under the impression that they would be met by the County’s Parish Champion.

Since the assembly the Parish Council has claimed that the points listed have been discussed but I can find no mention in the PC minutes of any discussion of or decisions taken to overrule the Chairman’s commitment.

I find this situation completely unacceptable and to be in clear breach of the Code of Conduct agreed by the PC, particularly in relation to:

Openness

Holders of public office should be as open as possible about the decisions and actions that they take. They should give reasons for their decisions and restrict information only when the wider public interest clearly demands

Clearly it would be totally irresponsible for the Parish Council to acquire a SpID until they have made a proper case for so doing and given all residents the opportunity to understand the issues at stake.  This could easily be done at an open Parish Meeting with officers from the Highways Department present to outline the other options which might be available.

The alternatives are clearly set out in in The Department of Transport Advisory Leaflet 1/03.  No doubt the Parish Clerk or one of the Parish Councillors would be happy to lend any resident their copy.

Should the Parish Council ultimately decide to proceed careful consideration would need to be given to the siting of any device.  The position chosen for “the trial” must have been carefully considered, 30mph at that point is clearly inappropriate but the “Smiley Face” could have been taken as approval to travel at 30mph.  Fortunately, there were no accidents, had there been, the question of public liability would have been interesting to say the least.

Graham Williams

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