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.