Local speed limits bill

North Cornwall MP Scott Mann has successfully introduced his first legislative bill in Parliament to give parish and town councils the power to hold community referendums to alter speed limits.

Since taking office, Scott has met with constituents, parish councils and schools, and says he has noticed the clear need for empowerment of communities to set speed limits themselves to make their roads safer. These include the communities of Stratton, Werrington, St Teath and St Kew, which Scott mentioned in his speech.

Scott introduced the Bill through a Ten Minute Rule Motion after Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, 18 November. Its short and long titles are as follows:

Speed Limits on Roads (Devolved Powers) Bill 

A Bill to amend Part VI of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, and the Local Authorities’ Traffic Orders (Procedure) (England and Wales) Regulations 1996, to make provision about the powers and duties of parish and town councils in relation to applying for speed limit orders; to provide for the conduct of local referendums to determine whether such applications should be made; and for connected purposes. 

In his speech in the House of Commons to MPs, Scott said he wanted to empower local communities in order to make their roads safer for motorists and pedestrians, particularly children, who face hazardous walks to school due to fast moving, high volume traffic at peak hours.

In the Commons, Scott said: 

“We can’t have people resorting to driving as an option when they only live a few hundred yards away. 

“If there is a majority who wants their speed limit changed, then they can stand back attribute their name to it. They can say that they helped shape their community by putting an X in the box on the ballot paper. 

“Ultimately I believe this Bill will empower people and help them address issues that directly affect them on the roads.” 

Scott explained that in order to save costs and time, referendums would be held alongside national and local elections. A proposition would be put to the local electorate asking if they want to change the current speed limit of a specific road or area to a newly proposed speed limit.

If the electorate vote in favour of the proposed speed limit on the ballot paper, then the Local Authority must begin proceedings to implement it.

In his speech, Scott pointed out figures that present a staggering contrast. According to data published for 2012 by the House of Commons Library, there were nearly 196,000 reported casualties on the roads of Great Britain, including 1,754 fatalities and 23,000 serious casualties.

On 30mph roads, there were 582 fatal accidents, whereas on 20mph roads there were 9. Two thirds of accidents happened in a 30mph speed limit, whereas only 1.5% were on 20mph roads.

Commenting on his Bill after it was passed, Scott said: 

“It’s time to put the power into people’s hands. Local people know the dangers present on their community roads, so why not let them change their own speed limits? 

“I’ve come across various communities in North Cornwall which suffer from speeding cars which threaten the safety of local residents. If my constituents want to lower the speed limit on their main road from 30 to 20mph, then they should have the power to do so. In 2012, over 550 people were killed on 30mph roads, whereas there were nine fatalities on 20mph roads, so the numbers speak for themselves. 

“I’m thrilled that my Bill was voted through in its first reading, and I have allocated its second reading for 5th February when hopefully it will be debated in more detail by MPs and I can set out the Bill in more detail.”

Scott’s full speech can be watched at: