Speeding and road safety in Sheepy Parish
A blog by Cllr Rob Ward (Parish Council Chairman) and Cllr Josh Melen (Parish Councillor for Sibson Ward)
Speeding has been a major concern to parishioners for many years and is regularly an issue raised at Parish Council meetings and in public consultations. For example, the Neighbourhood Plan consultation showed that more than 75% of parishioners highlighted speeding as a problem. The Parish Council takes the issue seriously and has been, for many years, proactive in responding to parishioner’s concerns. Although it has limited powers on this issue, it regularly lobbies the Agency’s who are responsible for road and highways management to take action. These include Leicestershire County Council and the Police. In doing so, we are supported by our Borough and County Councillors.
Whilst there is much more we would like to achieve, our actions have led to positive change and ensured that on-going issues of concern are being taken seriously by the authorities. Unfortunately, these authorities have limited resources and so any new measures to reduce speeding must be evidence-based and based on priority. Therein lies the problem; prioritisation is based on accident record, and in particular fatalities. Whilst we are campaigning for action to avoid accidents and fatalities, perversely this isn’t seen as a priority.
However, we have achieved changes and been proactive in doing what we can as a Parish Council. We successfully campaigned for the speed limit to be reduced through part of Sheepy Magna. Whilst we wanted the speed limit to be reduced to 30 mph throughout the village, the Police objected to any change. We challenged this and managed to achieve a partial reduction. The reason given by the Police for opposing the speed reduction was because they would be unable to enforce it! In our view, this wasn’t a good enough reason – what about safety? Perhaps it is time to campaign for the remainder of the village to be reduced to 30 mph? Similarly, reductions on the A444 through Sibson and the B585 through Wellsborough.
So, has the reduction in speed limit through Sheepy Magna made a difference? We know the answer to this because the Parish Council (with a contribution from the Parish and Communities Initiative Fund) purchased a mobile Vehicle Activated Sign (mVAS) to display and record vehicle speed. You may have seen this around the Parish. The purpose of this was to; (i) encourage drivers to drive within the speed limit, and (ii) collect evidence to determine whether speeding is actually a problem.
The answer to the question above is – yes. The data for vehicles travelling through the centre of the village (near the pub and Church) shows that most traffic is complying with the 30 mph speed limit. The reduction in speed limit has therefore made a positive difference. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t some speeding vehicles; there are. The statistic used by the authorities to determine if there is a ‘speeding problem’ is called the 85th-percentile speed. This is the speed below which 85% of all vehicles are travelling (and therefore 15% are above this speed). A problem is considered (by the authorities) to be present when the 85th-percentile value exceeds 35 mph in a 30 mph zone and 46 mph in a 40 mph zone. In the middle of Sheepy Village the 85th-percentile speed has been measured at between 32.7 and 34.8 mph, i.e. below the 35 mph threshold. At the North end of the village (Twycross Road), there is a different picture. Traffic approaching the school have been found to have an 85th-percentile speed of between 37.3 and 38.9 mph, i.e. above the 35 mph threshold. Following, these data being reported to Leicestershire County Council and the Police, along with parishioners directly reporting their concerns, the Leicestershire and Rutland Road Safety Partnership (who operate the speed cameras) designated the north end of Sheepy Magna as a site for speed enforcement by their mobile speed camera vans.
At the south end of the village, 85th-percentile speeds (inbound) have been recorded between 44.5 and 45.3 mph. As this is a 40 mph zone, these values are below the threshold that the authorities would consider there to be a speeding problem.
In Sibson, 85th-percentile values of 47.8 and 48.3 mph have been recorded for the 40 mph zone between The Cock Inn and the Millers Hotel. This is in excess of the threshold and so indicates a speeding problem. As with the North end of Sheepy Magna, the Leicestershire and Rutland Road Safety Partnership have designated this location for speed enforcement activities.
Another concern for the residents of Sibson that has been reported to the Parish Council is one of noise disturbance from loud vehicles, e.g. motorcycles, on the A444, particularly during the summer months. More recently other villages and residents in the Parish have reported similar problems. For the A444, the noise concerns and two serious road traffic collisions during 2020 prompted the Parish Council to investigate and consider possible solutions.
Sheepy PC reached out to neighbouring Parish Councils, the Police, the County Council and our MP, Dr Luke Evans. Speed surveys were conducted confirming the excessive speed problem, particularly during early morning and late evening. By working together, an increased Police presence on the A444 has resulted in reduced noise and vehicle speeds this summer (2021).
The Parish Council will continue to monitor and address speeding and road safety issues in the Parish and we encourage the relevant authorities to do similar. We are currently looking at additional measures and are hopeful of some additional funding to support this. Some of the ideas we are pursuing include, reducing speed limits, better road marking and signage, additional speed monitoring equipment. We are setting up a working group to look at the options and also to co-ordinate a Community Speed Watch scheme in the Parish. If you are interested in getting involved, please contact the Clerk. Also, if you have particular concerns about road safety, please get in touch with us.