Beccles reflects on three months of town’s first 20mph zone

Andrea Downes, chair of of the Northgate neighbourhood scheme.

Andrea Downes, chair of of the Northgate neighbourhood scheme. - Credit: Nick Butcher

Residents living in the first 20mph zone for Beccles introduced late last year have reflected on the success of the scheme in its first three months.

Northgate, St Benedict’s Road, Ravensmere East, Fen Lane and Pound Road became part of a 20mph zone last October, along with Bridge Street between Northgate/Fen Lane and No.5, Becclesgate and Ravensmere between Northgate/Fen Lane and Pound Road.

It followed years of campaigning by residents in the town who set up Northgate Neighbourhood Society (NNS) with the backing of the town council and county and district councillor for Beccles Chris Punt.

Mr Punt said at the time that if the initiative proved a success in bringing down speeds, it could see much of the traffic in the town centre being restricted to 20mph.

Andrea Downes, chairman of the NNS and town councillor, said: “While the residents are absolutely delighted at the new scheme and appreciate all the efforts of the Northgate Neighbourhood Society and councillor Punt, there is still the feeling that some drivers are abusing the limit.

“My personal thought is that those drivers who fail to adhere to the limit and abuse those who are driving at 20mph, think it was put in on a whim and fail to realise that it was a long and arduous 32-month process with individual resident complaints dating back many many years.

“The Northgate Neighbourhood Society will be conducting our own survey again shortly prior to the Suffolk Highways monitoring exercise due late spring and welcome the introduction of a community speedwatch team in Beccles with many residents wishing to participate.”

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Mayor of Beccles Hugh Taylor said the majority of residents, motorists and pedestrians had responded favourably.

He said a small number of cars appeared to travel down Northgate and along the other roads in the scheme in excess of the new speed limit but most drivers were clearly respecting the new limit.

In order for a location to be considered for a 20mph limit or zone, two out of three criteria must be met. These are that the current mean speeds are at or below 24 mph, there is a depth of residential development and evidence of pedestrian and cyclist movements within the area and there is a record of injury accidents in the area within the last five years.

The Northgate scheme has prompted a number of other groups of residents to request the 20mph limit.

Mr Punt said of the Northgate scheme: “I want to have this 20mph zone running for six months then I’m going to do some more speed data checks to see if it has been effective or not, and see what the difference in speed is.

“If it is effective I will then move on to the next area. If we find it is making no difference to speed at all then I will have to reconsider because every time I do one of these it costs money and we have a limited budget which could be used elsewhere.”

Do you think the 20mph zone is proving successful in reducing speeds? Email or write to Beccles and Bungay Journal Letters, 20 Blyburgate, Beccles, Suffolk, NR34 9TB, including your name, address and contact details.