Bill to give councils speed limit powers passes first reading

12.00 | 20 November 2015 | | 5 comments

A legislative Bill has been successfully introduced in Parliament to give parish and town councils the power to hold community referendums to alter speed limits.

The Speed Limits on Roads (Devolved Powers) Bill* was proposed by Scott Mann, Conservative MP for North Cornwall, on 18 November.

Mr Mann says that numerous meetings with constituents, parish councils and schools has made him aware of a “clear need for empowerment of communities to set speed limits themselves to make their roads safer”.

In his speech to MPs he said he wanted to make roads safer, particularly for children who face “hazardous walks to school” due to fast moving, high volume traffic at peak hours.

Mr Mann said: “If there is a majority who wants their speed limit changed, then they can stand back (and) 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.”

Mr Mann suggests 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.

If the electorate vote in favour of a new limit, then the local authority would have to begin proceedings to implement it.

Commenting after the Bill passed its first reading, Mr Mann added: “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?

“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.”

The second reading of the Bill will take place on 5 February 2016.

Full title: 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.


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    In my 30mph Dorset village this limit is ignored every day & neither the parish council, DCC, nor police will do anything about. We all want traffic to slow down to 30 but they don’t. I bought a radar gun & record 40-75 throughout the village every day & publish the speeds on a hliiburyroadspeeding website – google it. Why have signs that are simply ignored by selfish drivers? I agree with the MP & hope he wins.

    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    It was a national system, now it has denigrated into a collection of roads with speed limits set on a ‘confetti’ basis, in that they have no relation to the road environment. Hence you end up with 30mph roads with just fields either side and speed limits set to the whims and fancies of parish councils. The international 85th percentile is no longer used in this country.

    Terry Hudson, Kent
    Agree (1) | Disagree (0)

    I tend to agree with Hugh. There are many ways in which the community support for 20mph limits may be measured and it usually turns out to be very strong. He is also correct in that the responsibility and expertise exists at democratically elected Traffic Authority level. This is well covered by statutory responsibilities for road safety, TfL guidance on setting local speed limits and the non-discrimination against disabled, elderly and mothers with children within the Equality Act.

    The real problem is that whilst these are all very much in favour of 20mph limits some Traffic Authorities aim to “manage community expectations” by creating 20mph policies that arbitrarily suppress 20mph limit consideration. These can be by:

    a) Excluding the consideration on any A or B roads
    b) Rationing annual schemes allowed to be implemented
    c) Requiring casualties before consideration
    d) Only considering “drivers” rather than “all road users” when considering what a road “looks like”.

    Each of these do not match guidance which is often misrepresented in council documents, and may well break equality law.

    We have written blogs covering such policies in both English shire counties and a more recent case in Dundee. See

    Rod King, 20’s Plenty for Us
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Residents, parish and community councils can do this already i.e. they can request or campaign for speed limit changes, either directly or through their local councillors, however at the end of the day the Council as Highway Authority is still bound by the regs and the new Bill (if passed) as far as I can see, won’t change that.

    Parish, Town and Community Councils don’t have the expertise or resources to make TROs anyway so ulimately it will still be in the hands of the Local Authority.

    Is Mr Mann not aware of the work already done by Rod King & co. in trying to reduce residential speed limits on behalf of local communities?

    I can’t see such a Bill being made anyway as procedures are already in place through the existing local democratic processes.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Sounds a good sound bite but fraught with danger of unintended consequences. If it eventually makes it to become a law I hope there will be sufficient safe guards to ensure “balance”. It is often the case that individual local communities consider themselves to have exceptionally bad problems, whereas in the context of the bigger picture across a whole local authority area their concerns, though valid, are ranked as moderate. i.e not a high priority for funding purposes.

    How then do you rank such a community concern if it does not have substantive evidence like speed and casualty statistics to back it up?

    Pat, Wales
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

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