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Why Town Council’s New 20mph Zone Could Be a Lengthy Process

Wednesday 16 March 2016, 13:32
By John Smith

One of the Balsam Fields 20mph signs

Because of increasing concern about vehicles speeding in Wincanton town centre, the Town Council has passed a resolution asking County Highways to reduce the town centre speed limit to 20 mph. The map shows the proposed 20 mph zone which would apply to all the main town roads including High Street, North Street, South Street, Station Road, Silver Street and The Batch.

However, the Council resolution is only the first step in a complicated process before County Roads would consider imposing a lower speed limit. They will examine the proposal in great detail to ensure that the need is justified. What seems like a very simple and practical solution at first glance, could turn out to be a very costly exercise that would be difficult to justify. There is no clear timescale for this process, but there is a general feeling that it could be twelve months or more before a final decision is made.

In practical terms a 20 mph zone makes good sense, especially if town-wide. Such a zone could require fewer signs, and be more cost effective. The cost of the project will depend on many factors, starting from around £3,000. This figure could rise if speed bumps or pinch points are deemed necessary.

The proposed entension to Wincanton's 20mph zone

County Councillor Anna Groskop said that County would have to conduct feasibility and safety audits before any final decision could be taken. She said that Bruton had also applied for a 20 mph zone and that they had already been waiting a year for paperwork to be processed. This is a clear indication that Wincanton Town Council should manage their expectations, and not expect rapid progress in the short term.

Back in the 1970s the main A303 trunk road passed through the town centre. Traffic gradually reached unbearable levels, residents finding it almost impossible to cross from one side of the road to the other. They were relieved when the new A303 town by-pass was constructed, resulting in a dramatic reduction in town centre traffic.

Since then Wincanton continued to grow, and with that came another increase in traffic. This time the main issue is an escalation in complaints about speeding vehicles, which has triggered the Council's desire to re-examine road safety in the town. The issue has been the subject of much discussion by the Town Council, concerned that, without appropriate controls, the danger of serious incidents in the town increases.

For those who are interested in a little bit of history, the website gives a potted history of UK traffic speeds. It's interesting that the first speed limit was a very daring 2 mph, and that a Mr Arnold of East Peckham was the first person to be fined 1 shilling for travelling at approximately 8 mph.


Richard Joyce
Posts: 1
Speed Limits
Reply #1 on : Wed March 23, 2016, 14:38:43
The logic of this proposal escapes me. I live about 5 miles from Wincanton and visit about 3 times a week; I have done so for 25 years and therefore I have made thousands of journeys. I cannot recall ever having noticed cars speeding, certainly not during normal business hours at any rate.

The roads in central Wincanton are on the whole narrow and full of hazards – junctions, pedestrian crossings, cars parking etc. – they certainly are not conducive to speeding. Wincanton has virtually no through traffic either.

If there really are speeding problems then I would have thought that the Police were the first port of call. Surely if the current 30 limit is not being enforced then a 20 limit would not be either.

If anyone wants a demonstration of mad SCC solutions to traffic calming I would suggest a trip to Templecombe to see how badly it can be done (at a cost of £150,000). Perhaps madness is catching.

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