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'Cost of living crisis should not stop road safety improvements in Central Bedfordshire'

‘Cost of living crisis should not stop road safety improvements in Central Bedfordshire’

Extra enforcement powers are being offered to local authorities to target specific traffic laws.

Five pilot areas have been chosen by Central Bedfordshire Council, according to a report to its sustainable communities overview and scrutiny committee.

The one-way system along Sun Street in Biggleswade, a no left turn from Lodge Road in Cranfield, school no waiting zones in Tithe Farm, Houghton Regis and at Clipstone Brook, Leighton Buzzard, and the pedestrian zone in Leighton Buzzard High Street were selected.

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“The criteria include consultation with the Bedfordshire Police Chief Constable, a public consultation for pilot sites, ensuring accurate traffic regulation orders, having signs and lines in place, and having exhausted other reasonable means for enforcement,” said the report.

Further technical work is required at Bedford Road in Brogborough and Barton Road in Silsoe over weight limit restrictions, and with a yellow box junction by Sainsbury’s in Dunstable.

Head of business improvement Jade Jones explained: “Bedfordshire Police currently enforces moving traffic offences, such as box junctions, banned turns and school keep clear areas.

“We applied for these powers to improve road safety. It’s a not a money-making scheme. That’s certainly not our aim. There’s a process to go through.

“We’re bound by Department for Transport criteria for selecting sites, so that’s improving road safety, tackling congestion, increasing public transport reliability and improving air quality. It’s a data led approach.

“We’d welcome any recommendations from the committee for future sites to consider.”

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Conservative Dunstable Watling councillor Nigel Young said he hoped the cameras are relocatable, as they cost about £25,000 each.

Director of place and communities Lorna Carver replied: “These are specific sites with a camera solution in place 24 hours a day. Other sites have been consulted on, with an individual solution for those.

“Part of the work is about the electricity supply, so we ensure they can work and have longevity.

“The theoretical argument ‘could these cameras be used potentially elsewhere in future’, the answer is ‘yes’.

“But it isn’t our intention to put one in for six months. It’s not a short-term approach and the camera will have a lifespan.

“Powers aren’t being removed from the police, but extra ones are being offered to local authorities. There’s a distinction in that. Safety is of paramount importance to us.”

Independent Potton councillor Adam Zerny warned: “We haven’t been given detailed evidence by officers about why some sites are appropriate to proceed with and others not.

“We’re going through a cost of living crisis and talking about spending a big amount of public money on schemes, which will fine people.

“We need to provide a much more detailed analysis of why we’re picking these sites.”

Councillor Young, who chairs the committee, said: “I fail to see why we would be comfortable, regardless of the financial climate, with people making dangerous traffic manoeuvres.”

He suggested “the portfolio holder with the appropriate director consider capital funding for more schemes”, which was agreed.

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