Petworth renews its bid for ’20 is plenty’

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PETWORTH Town councillors are renewing their long-standing bid for a reduced speed limit in the centre of the town.

The town council’s recently-elected chairman, Chris Kemp, told fellow members of the council on Thursday that he believed it was time to move forward with a scheme which had long been talked about in the town.

“I propose we as a council make a decision that we would like a 20mph speed limit in the town,” he said.

“I don’t think we need to decide now where we want it to start and where 
we want it to stop.

“But this has been going round and round – it is in the Petworth Vision and it is in the neighbourhood plan 
and with the amount of time it will take to get it in place, I would encourage you to start the process.”

Chairman of the traffic and planning committee Neville Fox told members: “It will only be useful if it is enforced.”

But Mr Kemp told him: “Evidence does not suggest that. It tells everyone coming into the town how we feel about the town.

“Enforcing it will be difficult, but they do not enforce the 30, 40 or 50, so that is not a reason not to do this.”

Calls for a 20mph speed limit were first made in 2010 amid claims safety measures taken so far had not improved traffic dangers.

The county council had just spent £140,000 on new lorry ban signs around the town, but residents said these had been a complete waste of money.

West Sussex County Council’s highways manager at the time, Steve Johnson, refused to consider the plea for a new lower limit in Angel Street, claiming the accident record for Petworth showed no speed-related incidents and a lower speed limit would not improve on what was ‘an excellent safety record’.

But Mr Fox and fellow town councillors began to pursue the possibility of 20mph speed limits across the town.

Meetings were held with WSCC highways, the county council’s portfolio holder for traffic Derek Whittington, Petworth’s county councillor at the time Chris Duncton and Sussex police traffic superintendent Stephen Barry.

Long-time campaigner for traffic safety measures John Morgan has always maintained the £140,000 spent on signs had not solved the traffic problem in the town and were not worthwhile.

“The situation in Angel Street is very much the same,” he said when town councillors first muted the idea of getting on the ‘20 is plenty’ bandwagon.

He said the county council did not recognise there was a speeding problem in Angel Street – even after it put speed strips in the road which established cars were doing 50 mph in a road which was basically a horse and cart track.