THE CAMPAIGN FOR 20MPH

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There has been a flurry of news about the proposed 20mph signs that NCC promises for the near future, and we’re all very grateful to anyone who has made a real difference to bringing this about.

The story goes back years, and involves many people and meetings where the issue has been discussed and actions proposed, and sometimes taken.

We on the Parish Council can point to the many calls we have made for action from the police and County Council to take speeding seriously. Funding was found for our two safety signs [thanks to former Councillor Dougie Watkin, and the Windfarm Fund for supporting the village bid, and to Councillor Philip Hanson who tirelessly monitors the stats which give the real picture of what is happening as traffic enters the village]. These reports are posted on the Parish Council Website. Sometimes, subsequently, the police are seen in the village!

Still traffic speed is an issue, as apparently larger and larger lorries pound through the community, especially at harvest time. People have called for traffic calming measures, and for restrictions on parking, and for more police intervention with cameras and radar traps.

Above all we have called for a 20 MPH limit through the village, not only at school times, but at all times. The County Council has consistently rejected this, insisting that it would be ignored by  those who go too fast. The Parish Council entirely disagrees. People in Britain tend to conform to rules – not go out of their way to break them. We point to the 20mph limits through the centre of Hexham as an example of what has been done in Northumberland about speed limits.

The highpoint of this campaign in Lowick was the Twenty’s Plenty initiative that the First School championed, and the Village supported, back in 2017. Finally, the 20 signs and chicanes are to be constructed – only 5 years later! It’s not enough of course – but it’s a start.

To be fair to the County Council, the scheme as designed was intended to go in in 2019, and the plans are in the PC archive online to prove it – but Covid came along, and the County Council shut down for the duration – and it was back to square one when the officer came back to work.

So if you want to complain about apparent indifference of everyone involved about progress, look no further than the pandemic, I’m afraid. Today’s scheme is going ahead with the full support of, and in discussion with, the village, and if you want to view the plans today, these too are on the website [Lowick.Live has the link to the Parish Council’s document library].

We are grateful to Councillor Colin Hardy for providing the funding, and for actively pushing the scheme through at County Hall. Neil Snowdon is the officer responsible, and he produced the plans which were agreed by us, with the NCC, back in September 2021.

Incidentally, we are grateful for Neil for also taking the time to respond to questions and queries from local residents in the last few months.

One further point, it is important to remember that problems like this do not usually get solved locally. You can be as pushy as you like with councils, village or county, but what they can do is limited by what the UK law allows and by County Council policies, and by budgets. Sometimes speed is not a priority for understaffed and often underfunded Counties. Sometimes the person who you really need to speak to lives in Downing Street. You could also contact our MP, Ann-Marie Trevallyan, as she is there to listen and act on our behalf!

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