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Police object to Southwark’s 20 mph speed limit plans

Southwark Council is poised to approve a 20 mph speed limit on nearly every road in the borough, despite objections from the Metropolitan Police and the Freight Transport Association.

Police object to Southwark’s 20 mph speed limit plans
Borough Road is one of the roads where the speed limit will be cut from 30 mph to 20 mph

Cllr Mark Williams, Southwark's cabinet member for transport, is expected to formally reject the seven objections to the council's published proposals for a 20 mph speed limit on all roads controlled by the authority.

Roads affected by the proposal include Southwark Bridge Road, Borough Road, Harper Road, Grange Road, Mandela Way and Long Lane.

Most other Southwark streets in SE1, apart from those controlled by Transport for London, already fall within 20 mph zones.

"Introducing speed limits where traffic speeds are too high places an unrealistic
expectation to enforce on the Metropolitan Police," wrote Catherine Linney of the Met's traffic management unit.

"Whilst any reduction in speed is of benefit, the number of offenders will increase significantly in the roads which presently have average speeds of over 24 mph, placing an expectation on the Police for enforcement which we do not have the extra resources to fulfil.

"The Metropolitan Police objects to a 20 mph speed limit on any road in the London Borough of Southwark where the mean speed is above 24 mph.

"We also object to the implementation of the 20 mph limit where it is not obvious to the motorist through the look and feel of the road that the speed limit is 20 mph."

Southwark-controlled roads with a mean traffic speed of over 24 mph include Borough Road and Garden Row as well as parts of Lambeth Road and Waterloo Road.

In a break with the national convention that speed limits only apply to motor vehicles, the council plans to include horse-drawn carriages and bicycles in the scope of the reduced speed limit by referring simply to 'vehicles' in its proposed traffic management order.

Responding to a comment from a member of the public that it was unrealistic to expect unpowered vehicles to be able to accurately monitor their speed, the council's head of public realm Des Waters wrote: "The Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 does indeed refer to 'motor vehicles' however since 1984 cycling as a modal share has grown substantially and the council receives a number of complaints from residents – particularly pedestrians – about the excessive speed of cyclists.

"Therefore it would be inappropriate to treat cyclists differently to any other form of traffic and effectively tie the hands of police when it comes to speed enforcement."

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