With the recent news that 20 mph speed zones in Southend have caught more than 2000 drivers exceeding the limit since 2012, the chief of traffic and traffic-related trafficking in Southend has confirmed EXCLUSIVELY to Southend News Network that plans are in place to make Southend the UK’s first ever 20 mph borough by 2018. Matthew Lentement, who was appointed to the role a few days ago, is convinced that ‘twenty is plenty’ and ‘thirty is dirty,’ and he is sure that the proposals will bring huge benefits all over the town.
He explained, ‘First of all, many of the drivers who are caught are offered a place on a speed awareness course, and as a result we are proud to say that more and more local motorists are now aware of the concept of speed – statistics show that 86% of people who attend this course can also now tell the difference between a stationary vehicle and a moving one. Also, by expanding the 20 mph zone to cover the whole borough, we will be able to reopen most of the derelict tower blocks in Victoria Avenue as Speed Awareness Course Delivery Centres, creating thousands of new jobs.’
According to Mr Lentement, many of the town’s local businesses would also benefit from the new speed restrictions. He continued, ‘If you drive past a shop at 30 mph or more, it is very difficult to see writing in the window and other forms of marketing. At 20 mph or less, drivers have far more time to really engage with the content of posters and billboards – even when they are at a 90 degree angle to the motorist’s usual line of sight. If the initial stages are a success, we are also considering a scheme where individual businesses can sponsor a 5 mph zone with average speed cameras outside of their own premises.’
At this point, we voiced our concerns to Mr Lentement that the new arrangement would be used as an opportunity to introduce more CCTV cars, but he was adamant that this would actually be a good thing for the town. He responded, ‘If CCTV cars are restricted to 20 mph, except in emergency filming situations where there is a genuine threat to public safety, the cameras on top become 38% more effective. However, we are also aware that these surveillance vehicles should only be placed near schools, or any other area that could contain children, such as shopping centres, parks and roads with pavements.’
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