Dorset Council’s speed limit policy is a missed opportunity say campaigners

The draft of a new policy outlining how communities can request 20mph speed limits has been met with disappointment by campaign groups.

Dorset Council is set to consider the proposal, which would see £75,000 put aside for the implementation of lower speed limits, in the coming months.
The draft document, discussed at a meeting of the council’s Place and Resources Overview Committee on 6 October, outlines a number of criteria towns and villages would have to meet in order to be considered for the introduction of a 20mph limit.
But the policy has been met with disappointment by some, including Andrew Davis, chair of Fontmell Magna Parish Council, which is hoping to introduce speed restrictions on the A350 through the village.

Photos: Google; Andrew Davis

Photos: Google; Andrew Davis

He claims the document would leave communities having to meet too many criteria – at a large cost – to be granted the change.
After the meeting, Cllr Davis said: “My take away was that rather than making it easier for towns and villages where there is an identified risk to impose a 20mph limit, they are making it very difficult.
“There is also only a £75,000 budget for the whole of Dorset. They are talking between £5,000 and £35,000 per location.”
He also criticised a section of the policy that dictates areas wishing to impose a 20mph speed limit must currently have a mean average speed of 24mph or below before it would be considered.
“It’s completely nuts. In Fontmell Magna, we have seen an average of 37.2mph for 80 per cent of the vehicles passing through the village,” he said.
“The S-bends and pinch points mean they have to slow down as they go through the village centre, so it depends where you take the measurements.
“It defies logic, but it is still in the policy.”
During the meeting, a proposal that would have required communities to conduct a referendum over any proposed change – with at least 60 per cent supporting the move – was removed from the draft policy, a move welcomed by the campaigners.
But Cllr Davis said it would still be challenging for small towns and villages to meet the requirements.
“It’s going to be difficult,” he added. “We will wait for the final decision to come out.
“But we will be making an application and I have asked if we could use Fontmell Magna as a pilot because we tick so many of the boxes.
“The costs they are talking about, we can’t afford as a parish council.”
Dilys Gartside, from the Dorset branch of the 20’s Plenty campaign, said: “The policy that will come forward will favour the outspoken communities that can fund and fight themselves.
“It’s a missed opportunity.
“The policy should be a county-wide, default speed limit. It’s the only one that will work in a rural area.
“Every single person in Dorset, if they’re concerned about speed, needs to tell their county councillors and let them know they would like slower speeds.”
The proposed Dorset policy will go before the full council at a meeting in the coming months.

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