"We can’t afford more average speed cameras,” says Bedford Council’s highways chief

There’s such a high demand for speed cameras to control law-breaking drivers that Bedford Borough Council simply cannot help every community.

By David Tooley, local democracy reporter
Thursday, 5th December 2019, 4:51 pm
Updated Thursday, 5th December 2019, 4:52 pm

That’s the view of the council’s highways leader who rejected a fellow councillor’s bid to give his village special treatment to cope with their traffic problems.

Cllr James Weir (Cons) whose Kempston Rural Ward includes Great Denham, Stagsden, and Turvey, made his plea for Turvey to be given special treatment at Wednesday’s meeting of the full council.

Cllr Turvey said during a recent traffic survey 265 drivers were found to be exceeding the speed limit, which he said is “unacceptable”.

Bedford Borough Council's chamber during Wednesday's meeting

He claimed that Turvey’s circumstances of being a conservation village not designed to take heavy levels of traffic meant that it should be given special treatment.

He said the village sees 168,000 heavy goods lorries and 3.5 million traffic movements overall each year and problems are worsening.

“Can you treat it as an urgent case?” Cllr Weir asked the Cllr Charles Roydon, the deputy mayor and environment, highways and transport supremo. He said that last year had seen 86 prosecutions but none this year.

Cllr Roydon (Lib Dem, Brickhill) said Cllr Weir should contact the police and crime commissioner to persuade her to fine and prosecute speeding drivers.

Cllr Roydon said average speed cameras were “expensive to implement and maintain”, and that the Government had refused a bid to cover capital costs. “This is unacceptable but we will continue to ask,” he said.

He added: “There are 70 sites in the borough where councillors have requested average speed cameras. We don’t have the finances but we will add them as and when.

“Sadly, we don’t get the level of enforcement that you or your residents deserve. Speeding is a constant issue around our urban and rural communities.”

In rejecting Cllr Weir’s bid to grant Turvey special treatment he said: “They are all urgent and all have merit.”

He said it would be a “great help” if parish councils in the villages could raise some of the funds for speed cameras. “If we can raise funds that way, we may get nearer.”

> Cllr Weir also asked Mayor Dave Hodgson whether he could “revisit” problems with roadworks in Britannia Road, which were causing “gridlock” around Bedford Hospital.

Mayor Dave said the council was employing someone to help things along in the area. He said one of the issues was in “waiting for utilities to turn up” to carry out works to enable the roadworks to complete.