Speedwatch (article from Bawburgh News October 2014, with thanks to Sarah Catchpole)

 

SPEEDWATCH on the job from left: David Goodman, Holly Tudor, Geoff Garnham and Martin Payne delivering the coffee!

 

"...approximately two-thirds of all crashes in which people are killed or injured happen on roads with a speed limit of 30mph or less". RoSPA, 2005

Talking to people in the village when interviewing for Bawburgh Voices, the one topic raised again and again is the speed and volume of traffic. Now, in her role as a Parish Councillor, Sarah Catchpole has researched both the history and the current options for traffic calming in Bawburgh. She writes the following article for Bawburgh News:

"Over the years, many, many individuals have given blood, sweat and tears in an attempt to curb cars racing through our village and using it as a rat run. Most new members of the parish council take the challenge on out of sheer frustration perhaps thinking: 'Why can't something finally be done to put a stop to this?'

The County Council is responsible for the roads in Bawburgh through the Highways Department. The situation is far more complex than meets the eye and County Council policies change over time in terms of funding, legislation etc.

In order to trigger the Highways Department taking any action beyond the norm, our roads need to be accident black spots or have a casualty record - we don't have any record of either. Therefore, we simply don't meet the criteria for any traffic calming measures. It seems bizarre as every one of us has witnessed cars, motor bikes and even tractors racing through the village.

Long before I moved here, other concerned villagers had established this fact and responded with the only possible response, short of leaving our own cars parked on the roads day and night or risking life and limb by putting ourselves right out in the roads in the face of oncoming traffic.

SPEEDWATCH was set up by David Goodman in 2008 as a scheme overseen by the Police Speed Reduction Team encouraging local residents to be part of a road safety group with the aim of slowing traffic down. Details of cars speeding through the village are gathered in the approved way, sent to the police who can in fact cross reference that information from their files. A frequent Speedwatch presence acts as a deterrent to speeding traffic with repeat offenders liable to prosecution.

WHAT CAN YOU DO

With only one speed enforcement officer across all of Norfolk, Speedwatch is the one way all of us can take positive action TO REDUCE CARS SPEEDING THROUGH OUR VILLAGE. And it is our only gateway to a visiting speed enforcement officer who can issue on the spot penalty notices on his visits - a strong message if you get caught.

The current team is asking for you to volunteer your time for training. If we don't get more residents helping, we will loose the initiative and with it, any further direct support from the traffic enforcement officer at Norfolk Police.

Martin Payne has written a piece below describing a typical Speed Watch and it is our chance to make a real difference to our village. (I've heard tea and half decent biscuits/buns sometimes magically appear too!)

Sometimes, Speedwatch has been aware of local residents going too fast - if you want other people to slow down, it starts with each of us obeying the limit through our own village.

In the longer term, there is one other important thing we can do. The flashing signs showing your actual car speed are shown to be highly effective at slowing traffic. Known as VAS (vehicle activation signs), they could make a real difference to us if we had one on Stocks Hill and another on Harts Lane. They cost about 6,000 each all in, and are overseen by the Highways Department.

A scheme known as Parish Partnership secures joint funding from Parish and County Council to enable parish projects for the benefit of the community, but beyond the budget of individual parishes. Through the Parish Council, we could put in a bid and, if successful, get significant funding to lessen the burden. This scheme is often over subscribed, so it might take more than one application AND we would need to have our share of the funding clearly identified in order to qualify. We currently borrow a moveable machine that flashes car speeds of passing vehicles - members of Speedwatch have to look after and set up the heavy equipment on a daily basis. BUT permanent VAS machines would mean just that - they need no further attention from us and they can be solar powered too. Talk to your Parish Councillors about your concerns so we know we are representing you! Would you be in favour of permanent flashing speed signs?"

To join the Speedwatch team, please contact David Goodman <goodmanraf@aol.com> or 01603 748741 or Martin Payne <martin.payne@which.net> or 01603 813321

Holly with her red hair and hi-viz jacket is easily seen

 

 

TEAMWORK by Martin Payne

We're now half way through our stint on Stocks Hill, on a chilly Friday afternoon. I pour cups of coffee from my flask - a tradition that started when the Bawburgh Speedwatch team was formed several years ago. There are several other volunteers, not present today since we work in teams of three.

'Behind you!' says David. our Speedwatch co-ordinator. Geoff swivels to face the other way, just in time for the camera he's holding to show the speed of a van going up the hill. He shouts, 'Thirty-nine!' David and I note down the speed, together with the van's number, make and colour. Geoff turns back, pointing the camera at a car coming over the brow of the hill at what appears excessive speed. However, the red Corsa is doing exactly 30mph. Small cars always appear to be going faster than the larger ones.

Two cars and a van pass, comfortably within the speed limit. David starts to tell a joke, but has to stop when a black BMW saloon dashes by. Geoff shouts the speed, 46mph, and the make. David and I note the car's details individually, then confer. He thinks one of the number plate letters is D, whereas I thought it was an O. We decide that David's more likely to be right. There are the usual ironic comments about mad BMW drivers (my own BMW is visible, standing in the drive opposite...)

I take over the camera. But now it's not working - a flat battery? Nothing appears on the screen. David gently points out that I've got it facing the wrong way round. I still do this occasionally, even after years of using it! General laughter. Half an hour and a number of speeders later we pack up, taking off our yellow jackets and removing the 'Community Speedwatch' signs from the verges. As we do this an Audi hurtles past - one that got away!

In this hour-long session we've caught 16 vehicles going well over the limit - a slight increase on our usual average of about 12. All these will be reported to the police, who will send warning letters to the drivers. We noted an additional nine that were going a little above 30mph - full details of these vehicles will not be reported, but the fact that there were nine other speeders besides the extreme cases will be incorporated in our statistics, justifying a police speed-detector visit to the village every few weeks. Drivers caught exceeding the limit by the officer will be prosecuted.

It's been an entertaining and light-hearted hour for the team, but of course it has a serious purpose - to remind drivers that speed can injure and kill and, we believe, to make such tragedies less likely in our beautiful but at times traffic-busy village.

 

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