An update for residents on the work Councillor Craig Warhurst and I have been doing to tackle both road safety and speeding issues along Evesham Road going through Astwood Bank. Councillor Brandon Clayton has also been involved as local Borough Councillor, and Rachel Maclean MP has also been helping us as part of a teamwork approach, utilising all the talents and connections we have as a local Conservative Party team.
The setting of speed limits is the responsibility of Worcestershire County Council, but the enforcement of those limits is the responsibility of West Mercia Police. This includes speed cameras. Things like the Highway Code, national default speed limits, and the kinds of devices deployed into cars by manufacturers are Parliamentary matters.
The speed limit through Astwood Bank was originally set for 40mph, as I understand it. Some years ago I understand there was a crash involving a pedestrian, and subsequently the speed was reduced to 30mph as a result. The ‘gateway’ into the 30mph zone currently sits at the top of Rough Hill Drive on the other side of the roundabout – as a result, few people realise that they are in a 30mph zone even though the Highway Code informs us that the speed limit is 30mph unless otherwise informed.
Rule 124. You MUST NOT exceed the maximum speed limits for the road and for your vehicle (see the speed limits table). A speed limit of 30 mph (48 km/h) generally applies to all roads with street lights (excluding motorways) unless signs show otherwise.
Since our election in May 2021, Craig and I as County Councillors have received a steadily increasing stream of emails and messages regarding speeding issues and road safety concerns along the Evesham Road. This reached a peak later in 2021 when there was a pedestrian injured on the road outside Ridgeway Academy. As a result, Craig and I were able to ensure the delivery of a new Zebra Crossing, which opened in September 2022.
We have always been conscious that the most speeding activity occurs further up Evesham Road towards Redditch, particularly as vehicles leave the roundabout at the top of Rough Hill Drive (known as the Ran Tan island).
In tackling the speeding issues along Evesham Road we have to look at the wider picture – this is important because people who are driving along the road are coming from somewhere, and they are going to somewhere.
For example, the increase in concerns about speeding seem to have come along in conjunction with the deployment of an average speed camera zone through Studley. We have to ask, are people taking the Evesham Road to avoid this zone? We have also noticed a massive increase in speed concerns in areas where home-based working is now more common – if you are in the house, you are more likely to notice what’s happening in the street outside, and you will be able to hear the traffic whilst you’re working, and you will notice if a vehicle sounds like they are going too fast.
The main overriding concerns when it comes to roads from a County Council perspective is safety. That is the key factor from a Highways point of view. It naturally follows that failure to comply with the posted speed limit increases the risk and threatens safety on our local roads.
As Redditch South County Councillors we also cover the boroughs of Headless Cross & Oakenshaw, and Crabbs Cross too. Speeding is an issue in these areas too. This means we also take an interest in Rough Hill Drive, which seems to play a role in speeding/racing behaviour particularly at weekends. We have been working with police on this issue, and I personally have been actively pressing for enforcement here since 2017, even before I was elected to the County Council in 2021. That is why we see the speed van parked on Rough Hill Drive. But does this have a knock-on effect to Evesham Road? These factors are important to consider and is the reason why as Councillors we have to look at the bigger picture and approaches to Evesham Road, not always just Evesham Road itself. The same applies to roads coming out of Astwood Bank heading south too.
I will update this blog post with details of meetings and engagements around this issue. Please check back for updates.
August 2022 PACT Meeting
PACT (Police & Communities Together) are meetings hosted by West Mercia Police, to which local councillors are invited as guests. Craig and I attended on Friday 26th August at 6pm at St Matthias & St George Church Hall. We discussed with residents and police about the speeding issues and left that meeting having floated the idea of campaigning for an average speed camera zone. Residents in that meeting were supportive of the idea.
October 2022 Speed Gun Exercise
Craig and I were joined by Rachel Maclean MP and local police on Evesham Road where we conducted an exercise with the ‘speed gun’. 6 vehicles were recorded, each of them speeding at 36mph along Evesham Road.
We know that a lot of people who would have been speeding will have slowed down when they saw us, but the point of the exercise is not to ‘catch people out’, it is to remind them to check their speed. Anyone who was caught was given ample opportunity to do so – they could see us stood there in high-vis jackets pointing a speed gun at them. There’s no excuse.
November Meeting with MP
Following on from our work, and to help us reach more people, Rachel Maclean MP hosted a further community meeting at St Matthias & St George Church Hall at 9:30am on Friday 11 November 2022. Craig, Brandon and I attended this along with police and around 35 local residents.
We covered a wide range of points and additional roads where speeding is a concern including:
- Dagtail Lane
- Church Road
- Feckenham Road
- Avenue Road
- Foregate Street
- High Street
- Sambourne Lane
- The Ridgeway
We floated the idea of an average speed camera again at this meeting and it was met with broad support, though also some points to be considered such as placement of cameras – who would like a camera outside their home for instance.
We agreed to begin actively campaigning for an average speed camera zone, and would start to lobby the Police & Crime Commissioner to support a scheme. It is the responsibility of the police to install and manage any scheme – but the County Council will provide any poles and electricity as needed. Schemes start from around £160,000 and vary depending on the complexity.
I agreed to raise with the PCC (John Campion) at my next meeting with him. Some community members are looking to potentially start a petition, which we would support.
November 17th PACT Meeting
There was a further PACT meeting at 6pm at St Matthias & St George Church Hall on Thursday 17th November. Unfortunately this meeting was poorly attended. It might be due to many people attending the earlier meeting with the MP and feeling updated on the issue, or the cold and wet winter night.
We discussed the ongoing idea of an average speed camera zone, and how best to campaign for this. Clarifications were sought around who is responsible for an average speed camera zone – this is the sole domain of West Mercia Police. The County Council can install poles and provide electricity, but the police put the camera on the top and operate the scheme. This is why we need to convince them on the issue.
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