Electronic boards that flash up the speed of passing vehicles are being positioned in parts of Shaftesbury where people drive too fast.
The signs won’t be permanent. Speed indicators are considered more effective if they are moved around. But first, there’s going to be a survey to find out whether motorists are actually speeding in the areas identified. This entire project is expected to cost around £4,000.
Shaftesbury’s Mayor, Piers Brown, accepts that some residents might question the need to first conduct a survey to decide where to put the information signs. “If it was up to me, from speaking to residents, I know of half a dozen places around the town where people have systematically reported speeding issues. I’d love it if we could just go and put one of the indicators up, but we have to go through the criteria set out by the Highways Authority. There are no ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ about this,” Piers said.
The sites that will be surveyed include a stretch of the B3081 Shaftesbury to Gillingham Road near the A30 flyover at New Road, Salisbury Road, St John’s Hill, Coppice Street and Tout Hill. Sweetmans Road and Pound Lane will also be studied. Residents believe that those roads are being used as short cuts or ‘rat runs’ by drivers who want to avoid Christy’s Lane.
A resident of Calves Lane, which runs from the Sherborne Causeway towards Port Regis School, has shared his concerns with the Town Council. “A resident from the lane has championed this issue and he has kindly spoken to all of his neighbours who share his concerns. Shaftesbury Town Council is going to pay for a traffic study for that lane. If the survey reveals that people are speeding then the temporary sign can be put in place there,” Piers said.
Town Council staff met with Dorset Police and Dorset Highways officers to discuss the likely problem areas. Town Clerk Claire Commons told ThisIsAlfred that the highways department frequently carry out studies and were able to discuss some of their existing data.
Statistics show that Longcross is already eligible for a sign. A previous speeding study on the A350 at Littledown, near the Wincombe Business Park entrance, revealed that the level of speeding there didn’t justify an electronic sign. So Piers wants a new survey undertaken nearer to Ivy Cross roundabout.
“We have asked for a survey to take place lower down on the A350, into the built-up area. A lot of residents have contacted me about this to say there is a speeding issue. The survey may reveal that there is not a speeding issue within the legal definitions but it might show people are routinely travelling at excess speeds and that could give data that will allow the Town Council to lobby the Highways Authority and change speed limits, if appropriate,” said Piers adding, “But I’m not make any commitments on that at this point.”
So it seems that Shaftesbury residents who claim that people drive too fast down their roads might find themselves in the unusual position of hoping that the survey confirms their fears, so they can have a temporary sign. Piers says it could take a little longer before those display boards are in place. “This is a project that is going to take a little bit of time and that’s frustrating for the people living next to these traffic blackspots, but the council is doing as much as it can and as fast as it can within the limits set by the Highways Authority.”
Shaftesbury Town Council has commissioned additional traffic survey work following a request from the Neighbourhood Plan committee. That’s the group putting together the blueprint for Shaftesbury’s future planning and development. They have asked for information on vehicle speeds along the High Street, B3081 Gillingham to Shaftesbury Road, St James Street and the B3091.