Mixed views over 20mph zone

Alnwick Town Centre
Alnwick Town Centre

Proposals to reduce the speed limit and create a 20mph zone in Alnwick town centre have led some residents to question why it is needed.

In last week’s Gazette, we reported that Alnwick Chamber of Trade (Act), Alnwick Tourism Association and Alnwick Civic Society have come together to call for the reduced limit, which is hoped would provide a safer environment for shoppers.

The suggested area covered by the limit would be Bondgate Within from the tower, down to Narrowgate and the Castle, Fenkle Street, and Market Street, possibly up to Lagny Street to incorporate the area by Morrisons.

Explaining the reasons behind it, Act chairman Carlo Biagioni said: “We noticed that after 4pm, and even sometimes during the day, there seems to be speeding up and down the town. We would like it to be a safer environment for shoppers and people crossing the road.

“I think it would help businesses and be safer. There have been studies done before and it does help businesses if it’s a calmer area.”

The proposals have certainly proved a talking point, but one of the prevailing opinions is that it’s not necessary given how busy the town centre is a lot of the time, which naturally limits speed.

On the Gazette Facebook page, Caz Rae said: “I have to say, unless the town centre is especially quiet you’d be very lucky to be able to get up to 20mph. I find the most I can do is 10mph, especially through Narrowgate.”

Others pointed out that while they would not necessarily be against the reduced limit, speeding enforcement is really what’s required.

The volume of traffic and the parking situation were also highlighted as of greater concern than the speed at which vehicles are travelling.

Alnwick county councillor Gordon Castle said: “I don’t have a firm view, but recognise that a pedestrian-friendly scheme may require much more than unenforceable speed limits (unless we accept speed averaging cameras), especially when there are many hours during the day when 30mph is safe.

“We don’t want to persecute safe drivers and those who fail to observe 30mph limits are even less likely to observe 20mph limits.”

The suggestion to reduce the speed limit has also sparked debate about other locations in the town where 20mph limits could be implemented as well as other schemes.

One resident raised the possibility of a one-way system, although it was pointed out that this tends to be speed up traffic flow, while it would also have an impact on other residential streets, such as Green Batt and Lisburn Street/Prudhoe Street.

Another made reference to the issue that has long been discussed and never goes away – pedestrianisation.

He highlighted that Market Street and Bondgate Within are the main route through the town, but suggested making Fenkle Street and Narrowgate up Bondgate Within to the junction where Bailey’s is located a pedestrian zone during the day.

On reduced speed limits elsehwere, Lee Collis said: “Better having 20mph around Victoria Tce to stop people using it as a shortcut to Sainsbury’s.”

Sandra Genouw added: “I agree with Lee, outside Lindisfarne is horrendous for kids crossing.”

The Gazette is running a poll to gauge people’s views on the proposals. As of yesterday, 75 per cent were in favour of a 20mph zone and 25 per cent were against the idea.

Alnwick Town Council’s planning, highways and transport is to discuss the proposal at its next meeting after Mr Biagioni raised the issue at the council’s May meeting.