Agenda item

Public participation

Members of the public who live or work in the district are welcome to speak and may ask one question or make a statement of not more than three minutes duration relating to items to be discussed in Part 1 of the agenda only.


If a question is asked and answered within three minutes, the person who asked the question may ask a supplementary question that arises from the reply.


In accordance with government guidance, the Council has developed general protocols on operating buildings safely in order to reduce the risk of the spread of coronavirus and will apply to members of the public registered to speak.


We would therefore strongly urge anyone who wishes to register to speak to notify Democratic Services by 9am on the day of the meeting so that advice can be given on the arrangements in place.


There is an overall limit of 15 minutes for public speaking, which may be extended at the Chair’s discretion.



The following members of the public spoke under this agenda item:


1. Vivien Gainsborough Foot, Chairman of The Churchgate Area Committee and Member of the West Suffolk Council Air Quality Group made a statement in connection with Item 11 on the Agenda, “Work programme update and suggestions for scrutiny” on 20mph speed limits and anti-idling.


    Chair and members thank you for allowing me to speak.  My name is Vivien Gainsborough Foot, Chair of the Churchgate Area Association (CAA), and represent the residents and business associations for the 620 houses in the grid.  We have a membership of over 300 residents and businesses and are an active and articulate group.  The CAA has formed a Sub-Committee of the West Suffolk Council Air Quality Group and we focus on pollution and the enforcement of the 20mph zone in the Bury St Edmunds town centre. 


    Regarding pollution, I refer to the Suffolk County Council Health and Wellbeing Board report of July 2021, which states clearly that there is responsibility at every level to improve air quality by providing training and resources to increase the technical knowledge of transport and planning officers and strengthening wider communication to the public and the CAA looks forward to seeing some action on this.


    Referring to the West Suffolk Council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting in January 2019, the options considered were:


a)   To undertake a targeted campaign to effect behavioural change, which was adopted, but we have seen nothing of this on our streets.


    Under the 2002 Regulations of the 1995 Environment Act, stationary vehicle idling is an offence, and powers have been given to local authorities to issue fixed penalty notices to drivers who allow their engines to run unnecessarily whilst the vehicle is parked. 


Option (b) considered by the Committee was to adopt delegated powers under the 2002 Regulations to issue Fixed Penalty Notices to drivers leaving their car engines running.  This was rejected but does West Suffolk Council now employ Civil Enforcement Officers to ticket illegally parked cars.


The CAA is requesting that these officers be trained to enforce anti-idling.  We see cars idling all the time, which is damaging to our children’s lungs.


The CAA has produced an anti-idling video on its Facebook page, and we plead with you all to put your full weight behind West Suffolk Council’s traffic management to tackle this issue.


The 20mph zone is widely ignored and causes more pollution.  The police have no enforcement policy.  The streets in the grid have not got sufficient sight lines for the CAA to employ speed indicator devices and I would urge this Committee to argue for Siemens SafeZone speed cameras, which records encrypted data.  The data is forwarded to a computer for decrypting and can then be viewed by the police who can then issue notices on a pending prosecution.


Thank you Chair.


2. Glynis Horton, a local resident from Bury St Edmunds made a statement in connection with Item 11 on the Agenda, “Work programme update and suggestions for scrutiny” on 20mph limits. 


    Glynis Horton informed the Committee that many towns across the country and cities and countries across the world were introducing or extending 20 mph limits, with Paris being the latest.  They cite multiple benefits, for example increased safety, reduced pollution and making urban areas more friendly to cyclists and walkers.


However, in Bur St Edmunds, the Council wants to go in the opposite direction.  After previously being in favour of these limits and painting 20mph roundels on the road to remind drivers, the Council was now refusing to refresh them and as a consequence, they were fading into oblivion, leaving drivers unaware that a limit exists.  In Cannon Street, for example, the one 20mph sign that exists had been completely covered by vegetation. Yet at the same time that the Council was neglecting signage they claimed to be promoting cycling and walking.

Some councillors complain that 20mph roundels painted on the road detract from the appearance of, what they describe, as our beautiful town. Yet they ignore the multitude of confusing and unnecessary signage which can be seen across the town, for example, signage relating to lorry zones that no longer exist.  They would prefer to put the appearance of Bury St Edmunds above the health and safety of its residents. Councillors, however, do not seem to object to the roundels on the pathways at the entrance to the Abbey Park which bans cycling in the park.

20mph limits were not a quick fix and it takes time to enter the psyche of those driving through our town. They work but it takes time. We cannot rely on an overstretched police force to enforce them or the use of one or two community run cameras covering the whole of Bury St Edmunds.  Roundels painted on the road stating the speed limits enable drivers to focus was a quick and economical solution to the problem.

Of course, the driving lobby, who always oppose initiatives that bring further regulation to the way cars and lorries are used on the road, claim that 20mph limits do not work. They provide limited and flawed evidence to support this. There was no research to show the number of pedestrians and cyclists who avoided unsafe roads due to speeding traffic.

20mph limits were the global standard where pedestrians and cyclists mixed with motor vehicles. This was supported by the World Health Organisation, and many more organisations. This was why they were increasingly being adopted across the world. It was about time that Bury St Edmunds caught up.

Thank you Chair.