When Lewes Town Council held its first transport committee meeting last week (October 10) one of the first issues on the agenda was speeding traffic.
Residents from Malling Street attended, desperate to do something to tackle the 8,000 drivers who speed past their homes every day (at more than the 30mph speed limit).
Malling Street residents pressed their case for speed cameras even though they knew that they have been rejected time and again by East Sussex County Council and Sussex Police, on the grounds that there are not enough deaths or serious injuries caused by speeding.
There are probably many communities in the county who feel like those in Malling Street – frustrated at speeding motorists and this refusal to act by the powers that be.
There is some recognition of community concerns. The police support volunteer Community Speed Watch groups across the county to try to educate drivers. But their sterling work (we support one in Lewes) is a drop in an ocean of speeding.
If a community wants a 20mph scheme or other physical measures to limit speeding, the County Council will often agree and provide them (if the community part funds them!) regardless of the number of deaths or serious injuries.
So why can we have schemes which try to limit speeds but not the key enforcement measure (speed cameras) that makes them a reality for communities?
The Malling Street cameras could pay for themselves very quickly and provide extra resources for local action. They would earn up to £1.4 million every week if everyone paid the £100 speeding fine! (The figures are from an East Sussex County Council traffic speed survey on Malling Street in 2018 which showed that over 2,000 vehicles a day are in excess of 35mph – the criteria for a fine)
If the money was recirculated locally, then it could go into funding speed cameras for other communities, or more police, or improvements to get people cycling and walking or funding public transport – which would help ease that congestion which also makes life hell for local communities (24,000 vehicles a day pass through Malling Street/Hill!)
Is it because we think speeding is not a real offence and speed cameras are an infringement of our civil liberties?
Communities around Sussex are saying: what about our rights to walk, cycle, shop, chat, live on our streets free from the noise and risks that comes from speeding traffic. Malling Street, you are not alone and the pressure for enforcement is building!
Chair of Lewes Living Streets