Council under fire after approving only four new 20mph zones in Devon

20mph road sign

20mph road sign - Credit: Devon County Council

Devon County Council’s opposition leader has criticised the low number of new 20mph limits being introduced in the county. 

Four were given the go-ahead last month for the ‘most in need’ communities: selected areas of Tiverton and Winkleigh, and all the roads in Atherington (North Devon) and Ashburton. 

It follows the introduction of a new assessment process for 20mph requests last year after Newton Abbot residents rejected the speed limit on the town’s main and residential roads, but supported it outside schools. 

A total of 105 requests were received by the county council. Lib Dem group leader Julian Brazil says the fact that only four were approved shows how the Conservative administration has become ‘complacent’ with ‘no ambition’. 

He acknowledged the cost of introducing new speed limits but suggested that town and parish councils could help pay for them.

Leader John Hart said the council will ‘get round to some more’, but the money should come from future Government highways funding. 

Among the communities campaigning for a 20mph limit is Newton Poppleford, whose parish council has been calling for it for years. 

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In February the issue was raised at a meeting the county council’s highways committee for East Devon by Beverley Raw, the daughter of Ken Cooper, who died after being hit by a car on the village’s pedestrian crossing. 

Supported by Cllr Jess Bailey, who represents the Newton Poppleford area, Mrs Raw asked the county council’s highways committee for East Devon to consider the speed limit as part of package of road safety improvements. 

But they were told all requests for new 20mph limits had to be submitted via the new assessment system. 

This gives them a priority score based on criteria including average speeds at key locations, records of speed-related accidents causing death or injury, and the number of vulnerable road users in the area.  

The four chosen areas scored 11 or higher on the priority scale. Newton Poppleford scored under 10; the exact figure has not been given. 

Defending the current policy, John Hart said the council cannot put extra money into additional 20mph zones, but may consider them, depending on the Government funding it receives for highways projects next year.