Sunday, 29 November 2020

Village split on 20mph limit to stop ‘budding F1 drivers’

PLANS to cut the speed limit in Shiplake to 20mph have been supported by the parish council.

PLANS to cut the speed limit in Shiplake to 20mph have been supported by the parish council.

Members voted 4-3 in favour of the measure, which one supporter says is needed to crack down on “budding Formula 1 drivers”.

Oxfordshire County Council will now decide whether to implement it.

If it agrees with the parish council, the new limit would be introduced in residential streets off the A4155 in Shiplake and Shiplake Cross, where the current limit is 30mph.

More than 40 residents attended the council meeting after a letter encouraging people to speak out against the move was circulated.

The issue was decided on the casting vote of council chairman Tudor Taylor.

He said: “It was a close-run issue with quite a few people speaking against it. They argued their case well but the arguments in favour were fundamentally based on safety so from a moral standpoint I couldn’t oppose it. I think a lot of people in the village are either ambivalent or quietly in favour of it. I felt I had a duty to support it.”

The scheme was first proposed in the Shiplake Villages Plan, which was published last year and written by an independent steering group under the parish council’s supervision.

The group surveyed residents and found traffic calming was their fifth highest concern, with a reduced speed limit being the most popular suggestion for making the roads safer.

Writing on the Shiplake Villages website, residents were divided.

Robert Pehrson, of Northfield Avenue, said: “We are all in favour of road safety but this is nonsense. An unnecessary limit like this simply invites non-compliance and discredits speed limits generally.”

Malcolm Hall, of Mill Road, said: “There is no justification or necessity for this proposal and I hope those who feel as I do have lodged their objections so that this nonsense can be stopped.”

But Will Stevens said: “The 20mph limit is becoming much more common in small communities and is hardly an imposition in Shiplake.

“Hardly anywhere is it possible, let alone safe, to drive at 30mph, so in practice this is hardly a curtailment of personal freedom.”

Edward Harding said: “Most of the speeding is done by Shiplake residents. We have a few budding Formula 1 drivers living in or off Crowsley Road. This is not a half-baked scheme. It works in Sonning and would work here.”

In a letter to the county council, the parish council said: “Much of the parish is without pavements and pedestrians and cyclists all use the roads for passage.

“The awareness of the lower limit may occasion drivers to take extra care on these shared-use roads. Distances within the villages are small and a reduction in speed will make little difference to journey times.”

David Bartholomew, who represents the village on the county council, said he took a neutral view on the issue at the moment.

“I think it should only go ahead if the village wants it,” he said. “I’ve received a lot of correspondence that is against the proposal but it was supported during the village plan process.

“It’s often the case that you get very enthusiastic objections but with a quiet majority in favour so I am collecting further evidence in order to arrive at an informed opinion. I would encourage anyone, whatever their views, to let me know their thoughts.”

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