Council Calls for New Powers to Enforce 20mph Limits in Reading

  • Council repeats call for new powers to enforce 20mph zones in Reading
  • Local authorities under public pressure to increase number of 20mph zones, but these need enforcement

READING Borough Council has reiterated its call for new powers to enforce 20mph zones in the town to create safer local communities.

Speeding is one of the most raised issues in local community safety surveys as something local residents would like to see addressed, including better enforcement of the growing number of 20mph zones in Reading.

Next week’s (Nov 12th) Traffic Management Sub-Committee (TMSC) will receive a copy of the Council’s response to the Department for Transport (DfT) consultation (Roads Policing Review: Future methods to improve safety and reduce casualties). In its response,  Reading Borough Council has called for new powers for local highway authorities to be actively involved in speed enforcement in residential areas.

In addition the Council wants the Government to move quickly to give councils outside of London the same powers to enforce moving traffic offences (such as ignoring banned turnings; one-way streets; obstructing yellow box junctions).

The Council points out that moving traffic offence enforcement powers, already held by local councils in London, have achieved higher levels of enforcement than police resources can deliver.

The Council’s response to the DfT states: “Local highway authorities such as Reading could play a much more active role in speed enforcement, particularly in enforcing 20 mph speed limit zones.

“Local authorities, like Reading, are under continuing and understandable public pressure to extend the number of 20mph zones. We wish to do this but it obviously results in increased need for effective and regular enforcement.

“However, it is clear that Thames Valley Police has a declared policy of not supporting 20mph speed enforcement. This may be justified by the police in terms of reduced resources and the need to focus on higher policing priorities, but it leaves an entirely unacceptable situation for locally elected representatives. We need therefore to have the powers to devise more effective methods for enforcing 20mph zones.”

In its response the Council is clear it is not calling for a total decriminalisation of speed enforcement, but it does believe there is considerable scope for  local highway authorities to enforce speed limits up to a certain threshold, such as 40mph.

The Council’s response welcomes recent indications by the DfT that it is looking at allowing local authorities, rather than police, to enforce moving traffic offences (‘Gear Change’ Sept 2020, p30)  and says: ‘it is urgent and essential that these powers are commenced as soon as possible.’ Next Thursday’s TMSC report can be found at: https://democracy.reading.gov.uk/documents/s14821/08%20-%20DfT%20roads%20policing%20review.pdf

The Council’s response to the DfT  consultation is at: https://democracy.reading.gov.uk/documents/s14822/DfT%20Roads%20Policing%20-%20Councils%20Response.pdf

Tony Page
Cllr Tony Page

Cllr Tony Page, Reading’s Lead Member for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport, said:

“We firmly believe that a local authority such as Reading – which is willing and able to pilot and resource local speed enforcement – should be allowed to do this in the interests of our local communities.

“By enabling local highway authorities to enforce 20mph zones local communities would benefit from safer roads.

“In the same way that parking enforcement was transferred to the Council from the police many years ago so, too, it is now essential that speeding enforcement becomes a Council function. Action must be taken, and Reading Borough Council is willing and able to do this and should be allowed the necessary powers.

“It is no longer acceptable for Thames Valley Police and the Police and Crime Commissioner to oppose our wish to enforce speed limits in the Borough, whilst at the same time refusing to commit their own resources to enforce lower speed limits in residential areas. The recent reductions in traffic levels have seen a rise in complaints about irresponsible speeding by car drivers and motorcyclists.

“It is important to understand this is no Council ‘cash grab’, as all fines would have to be reinvested in either further speed enforcement resources or local environmental measures, as currently happens by law with bus lane and parking fines.”

At the same TMSC meeting next week are a series of proposals to support the existing 20mph zone in Redlands Ward, in the area around the Royal Berkshire Hospital and the University of Reading.  The full report can be found at https://democracy.reading.gov.uk/documents/s14817/06%20-%20Redlands%20Local%20CIL%20Funding.pdf

Councillor Page added:

“Allowing us to share speed enforcement powers with the police would complement other initiatives we are taking to enforce lower speeds in Reading. The latest example being the detailed proposals to enhance compliance with the existing Redlands 20 mph zone.

“Next week’s Traffic Management Sub-Committee will be invited to approve a range of new physical measures in the hospital and university area including new speed cushions and humps, width restrictions, staggered flow priority arrangements, and new and improved signage. It is hoped these measures will deliver some speed reductions but they also require wider speed enforcement powers.

“Reading Borough Council therefore calls on the Department for Transport, Home Office, Thames Valley Police and the Police and Crime Commissioner for the Thames Valley to work with us to allow the Council new powers to enforce speed limits in Reading.”

Oscar Mortali

For media enquiries about this release email oscar.mortali@reading.gov.uk or call 0118 937 2301