Calls for speed limit along stretch of A3052 in East Devon to be slashed to 40mph

A stretch of the A3052 in East Devon could have its speed limit cut to 40mph after the county’s highways chief indicated his support for the move. 

Sidmouth Road – near Exeter City Football Club’s training ground at Cat and Fiddle near Clyst St Mary – currently has a 50mph restriction.

The area contains a retirement community, a pub, and a number of houses, writes Local Democracy Reporter Ollie Heptinstall.

Members of the East Devon Highways and Traffic Orders Committee (HATOC) discussed the issue at their February meeting.

They also approved a new signalled pedestrian crossing and bus stops outside the nearby Crealy Adventure Park and Hill Barton Business Park.

Around £225,000 will be spent on this scheme, expected to come from a mixture of the council’s local transport plan and third-party contributions.

Devon County Council (DCC) says it will improve pedestrian safety and increase the ‘attractiveness of public transport’.

Councillor Ray Steer-Kemp, of Bishops Clyst Parish Council, told the committee he was ‘delighted’ at the ‘urgently required’  crossing and bus stops.

He also warned there is a ‘serious requirement’ to lower the 50 mph speed limit due to the ‘inherent danger’ of the road to its 270 residents.

His remarks came after a report to the meeting by highways officers found there was ‘no new data to suggest that the reduction is justified in the current situation’.

But members disagreed with that verdict and asked the authority’s ruling cabinet to approve a lower limit.

Chair of the committee Cllr Stuart Hughes, also DCC’s cabinet member for highways, signalled his support for the change.

The HATOC failed in requests for the speed limit to be lowered in 2010 and 2012.

But Broadclyst representative Cllor Henry Gent said that, since then, the size of the vehicles using the road had changed.

He added: “We’re talking about big lorries which will go as fast as they can when the traffic allows it, and I think it is wrong to have 50 [mph]on that stretch as the speed limit. It really should be 40.”

Exmouth ward member Cllr Richard Scott took issue at the council’s entire ‘rigid’ policy on speed limits, and called for a review.

He said putting a crossing on a road with a 50 mph limit was ‘madness’.

“If there’s a justification for a crossing, there’s a justification for a lower speed limit,” added Cllr Scott.

“If you had a lower speed limit, crossing would be easier without a crossing anyway.

“This is where I get frustrated about the answer being, ‘We can’t depart from policy’. We write the policies; we agree to the policies. If the policy’s not working, then change it.”

Cllr Hughes said any departure from policy had to go to the authority’s cabinet.

But he added there was a ‘golden opportunity’ for an extension to the 40 mph limit through Cat and Fiddle.

“It should be a 40, and it should be 40 right through to Clyst St Mary. I’ve got no problem with it at all,” said Cllr Hughes.

He added that a road safety officer thought the area was ‘almost compliant with a 40 mph limit’ and there was ‘a genuine case’ for it to be changed.

The committee approved the pedestrian crossing and associated works and will ask cabinet to support lowering the speed limit through Cat and Fiddle.

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