Community Speed Watch (CSW) in Westwood
Background: The Westwood Road Safety Campaign Team was formed in November 2009. Its aims were to understand the actual concerns and issues about road safety in open consultation with the community of Westwood and to obtain a mandate from the community via petitions. The petitions and feedback were submitted to Westwood Parish Council (WPC) in January 2010 requesting the immediate introduction of a 20 mph speed limit throughout the village. WPC resolved on 1st February 2010 to ask Wiltshire Council to carry out an initial assessment.
After the 20mph limit was introduced a village post-implementation survey in 2012 asked 'How satisfied are you with the 20 mph limit?' The results were: 56% satisfied, 15% neutral and 28% dissatisfied. The mean average speed across the monitoring sites had dropped from 27.7 mph to 25.4 mph. Although the overall reduction in average speed is modest, the WPC view is that it would not only improve road safety but bring about wider community benefits such as encouraging increasing numbers to walk and cycle.
The Road Traffic Order (Westwood 20mph Speed Limit) became fully operational on 23rd December 2013 and the 20mph speed limit is now fully enforceable throughout Westwood (including the side streets). Wiltshire Police state that CSW "is not about spying or snooping on neighbours; it is about taking positive action on the ground working in partnership helping to improve the safety and quality of life for everyone in the community".
Lower Westwood Road: This road has a large number of potential hazards not conducive to excessive speeds. These include blind bends, pinch-points, virtual pavements for pedestrians, horse riders both singly and in larger groups (that can be found along the road all day long), several blind entrances and roads that open directly onto the main road, large commercial vehicles, farm vehicles, buses and coaches, and a very busy junction at Lyefield Lane to and from Upper Westwood.
The distance between the 20mph speed signs on the Lower Westwood Road is about 1.19km or 0.74 miles. The police use 25mph as the starting point for recording speeds of vehicles in Westwood village (based on being above the speed limit +10% + 2mph. On average 10% of the vehicles are travelling at 25mph or more, many above 30mph with the fastest recorded at 49mph! At 20 mph this journey takes 2min 13sec. At 25mph it would take 1 min 46sec and at 30 mph 1 min 29sec so speeding (both at prosecutable speeds) would save you a modest 27 seconds and 44 seconds respectively. The evidence is clear - the overwhelming majority of drivers are driving appropriately but a small minority are over the limit and an even smaller fraction drive at inappropriate speeds for the Lower Westwood Road
Upper Westwood: There is a 20mph limit in Upper Westwood but no Community Speedwatch because the police will only consider introducing it if the average speed is 25mph or above. A recent survey that they undertook showed that it was not.
Community Speed Watch: This is a group of volunteers who have been vetted and trained by the police. The volunteers have been supported by passing motorists but have also been subject to aggressive behaviour. This is always reported to the police and a number of people, including residents of the village, have received visits from the police.
The CSW team use a radar "speed gun" to monitor the speed of the target vehicle within the boundaries of the CSW zone. No photographs are taken. Car details (type, colour and registration number) are recorded as well as the time and place of the alleged offence. These data are uploaded onto the CSW site of Wiltshire Police within 24 hours and all the original data and uploads are destroyed according to the requirements of the Data Protection Act. High-visibility jacket are worn by all members of the CSW team when monitoring not only as a safety measure for themselves but also so as to be clearly visible to motorists even from a distance. All sites have been approved by the police and the CSW team is monitored by the police randomly during sessions.
There are now nearly 80 CSW schemes in Wiltshire and there is a long queue of applications from villages across the county who are keen to initiate the scheme. We are always keen to recruit new members who may do as many or as few sessions as they wish, and full police training is provided. If you would like to help or wish to know more please write to me - contact details are on the Westwood Parish Council website.
Many thanks. Councillor WhealsArticle published: 08 Jun 2014