NEW hopes of a 20mph speed limit in Lewes have been welcomed by a local pressure group.
Lewes Living Streets has campaigned for several years for a 20mph limit through residential areas of the town, including a petition signed by more than 1,500 people presented to East Sussex County Council.
The response of the council was that the guidelines in force at the time did not permit changes without costly engineering works in the form of speed humps or chicanes and “street furniture”.
Now Lewes MP Norman Baker, Under Secretary of State for Transport, has announced removal of the 20mph roadblock.
Such schemes will now become cheaper and easier to implement and councils, such as East Sussex, will be freed up to implement them using a ‘common-sense’ approach.
Signs painted on road, rather than expensive upright signs which were previously required, will now be acceptable and will now only be required at the start and end of the speed limit.
In addition, the government will reduce the need for councils to use speed humps in 20mph zones and make it cheaper and easier for councils to put in place variable speed limits outside schools when local residents want them.
Mr Baker said: “If local people want a 20mph scheme, local authorities should be in a position to take that forward without having to worry about wasting vast sums of taxpayers’ money just to satisfy central government imposed bureacracy. My announcement, on behalf of the Government, makes that possible.”
It leaves the door open for the popular Lewes proposal to be looked at again by the county council.
Mr Baker added: “I have spoken to local authorities around the country and many are keen to implement 20mph schemes but cite, as East Sussex did, the cost of providing upright signage as a key obstacle.
“The obstacle has now been all but removed and I am urging all local authorities, inclduing locally, to reconsider previously scrapped proposals in light of the new freedom that has been provided.”
Richard Kemp, of Lewes Living Streets, said: “Evidence suggests that in residential streets, and in town centres where there is likely to be a conflict between vehicles and pedestrians, carefully implemented 20mph zones can contribute to an improvement in road safety.
“This is particularly the case for children who would appear to be especially vulnerable to being hit as pedestrians.”
Mr Kemp added: “Lewes Living Streets would like the council now to reconsider its opposition to the 20mph limit and to take steps to implement a scheme throughout residential Lewes.”