Let’s solve this impasse over our 20mph zones

Steve's baby daughter made amazing progress this week, or so his wife thought

STEVE CANAVAN: It was a lot of rattle over just a little roll

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Things have come to a pretty pass when Portsmouth City Council has to consider court action against Hampshire Police over our groundbreaking 20mph zones.

But that is where we are in the wake of the council effectively making Portsmouth the first go-slow city in the country.

For the plain fact is that police are not going out trying to find drivers who flout the lower speed limit – and that has become known to many motorists more interested in their own ability to get from A to B as quickly as possible rather than doing all they can to help secure the safety of fellow road users.

Those who have a mind to take a chance on speeding know full well that they are likely to get away with it.

All of which leaves us in the unacceptable position of having a law that is generally not enforced and is therefore treated with disdain and indifference.

The problem for the police seems to be one of resources. They don’t have the staff or perhaps the equipment to set up speed checks in 20mph streets, saying that national guidance from the Association of Chief Police Officers suggests such monitoring is better done at known hazard spots.

But people living in Portsmouth’s narrow and congested backstreets know how dangerous those roads can be, which brings us back to the core of the problem.

The 20mph zones were introduced to enhance safety. If they are going to work, they have to be respected, and the law brought to bear on those who choose to ignore the legal limit.

There has to be a question about how much joined-up thinking there was in the inception of this scheme. Clearly enforcement was going to be integral to its success.

So did no-one ask the police the right questions, or did the police not give the right answers?

Either way, it needs to be sorted out – and hopefully without recourse to a court fight (which both sides would fund with public money).

Could perhaps traffic wardens be empowered to carry out regular speed checks? If there’s a will, there’s a way.