Councillors call for speed limit reduction across Swindon to 20mph
Drivers on Swindon’s streets could one day have to limit their speed to 20mph.
Stratton councillors unanimously supported a proposal to consult other parish councils about teaming up to reduce the default speed around the town from 30mph to 20mph.
If neighbouring parishes agree with them, they will invite the borough council’s highways team to a meeting in January to discuss the pros and cons of the road safety idea.
Stratton St Margaret parish councillor Roger Smith put forward the idea because he felt it could help reduce the amount of casualties on the roads, improve road safety and encourage more people to cycle or walk.
He said: “We often get complaints from residents about speeding… particularly on Delamere Drive and Grange Drive, and how nothing is done about it.
“It’s not an issue that’s unique to us. There are other parishes who have been trying to encourage the borough to introduce measures to improve road safety.
“Those requests normally fall on deaf ears for all sorts of different reasons. The highways team appears reluctant to support measures to improve road safety – money is always a factor, which I appreciate.”
Coun Joe Tray agreed: “The borough is too reluctant to make any changes. I’ve had experience where someone’s had to be killed before they put a pelican crossing in.
“We don’t need to build up evidence of people dying to get road speed reductions and there are areas in Swindon where they have reduced the speed to 20mph – after serious accidents.
“It’s a great thing to go for and it can happen. It would make the residents feel safer, it’s a win-win.”
Coun Tom Butcher said: “We should be working other parishes around us and encouraging the borough to look at this more. We should have more proactive work on improving road safety… and it shouldn’t be just car-dominated.”
Phil Jones is the founder of transport engineering consultancy PJA and has worked with the Welsh government and Kent County Council to lower the default speed limit in residential areas from 30mph to 20mph.
The company is involved in the ‘bus boulevard’ proposal and access to the new Kimmerfields site.
Mr Jones talked SSMPC through how he helped Faversham in Kent, which has a similar population to the parish, to gain an experimental traffic order last week which saw 20mph become the maximum legal speed on every road except the A2.
He said: “Making the whole town 20mph was actually more effective, simpler and cheaper because you don’t have to make more signs for different limits.
“Even if you don’t get big speed reductions to begin with, it starts to normalise the idea that driving at slower speeds is the right thing to do.
“There is opposition when it goes in but often it’s a vocal minority and there’s a silent majority that’s in favour.”
He highlighted that Portsmouth, Bristol, Brighton, Edinburgh and some London boroughs implemented this measure over a wide area, and cited Department for Transport guidance which suggests that any 1mph reduction in speed reduces collision frequency by six per cent.
Every councillor supported the idea in theory though Coun Tim Page requested evidence of speeding issues or accidents that could be used to make their case more persuasive to other parishes and the borough.
He said: “It could work in Faversham, which is a town apart, but we’re a suburb of Swindon so it could only work in conjunction with the other councils. To have us as a pocket of 20mph zones within the greater Swindon area would not be accepted and would not work.”
Coun Matthew Crorkin-Davies asked how the new limit would be enforced. Mr Jones replied that the police would enforce it and that smart tech in new cars would automatically obey the speed limit unless the driver overrides it.
He added: “It won’t happen overnight but people will be driving slower than they would be otherwise and that’s generally a good thing.”