Calls to introduce new speed limits in towns and villages across East Sussex are set to be considered by a senior county councillor next week.

On Monday (June 21), East Sussex County Council’s lead member for transport Clare Dowling is set to consider a motion calling for 20mph speed limits on “urban and village roads” within the county.

The motion, from Ouse Valley West and Downs councillor Sarah Osborne (Lib Dem), is set for a full council debate next month. 

Cllr Osborne’s motion reads:

“East Sussex County Council agrees to request the cabinet to set an authority wide default 20mph speed limit for urban and village roads.

“This does not mean ‘every road’, but that 20mph speed limits should be the norm and higher limits should be exceptions only where there is evidence that such a higher limit will be safe for pedestrians and cyclists. 

“This is recommended by the World Health Organisation and was recently committed to by [the] UK government in the 2020 Stockholm Declaration signed by the UK and 129 other global road safety ministers.”

While a final decision on the motion will not be made until after a full council vote on July 9, next week’s meeting will see Cllr Dowling decide the authority’s official response to it. 

Although this decision is to be left to Cllr Dowling, officers are advising that the county council does not, at present, have the necessary resources to introduce the authority-wide speed limit.

In a report to be considered at the meeting, a council spokesperson said:

“There are over 1,000 kilometres of ‘residential’ roads in the county (comprised of more than 4,500 individual roads).

“Although some roads would only require a Traffic Regulation Order and speed limit signs to introduce a 20mph speed limit, many roads would require some additional engineering measures so that average speeds were appropriate for a 20mph speed limit.

“The types of engineering measures required on these roads would make it very expensive to introduce an authority-wide default 20mph speed limit on all urban and village roads in the county.

“The type and extent of engineering measures that may be required could only be defined following a detailed investigation, design, and consultation process.

“Although the cost of introducing an authority-wide default 20mph speed limit is uncertain, based on the number of residential roads in the county the total cost would be several million pounds.”

The report goes on to say the council would, should the motion fall, continue to consider individual requests for 20mph speed limits if brought forward. These would be considered alongside other requests for local transport improvements for potential inclusion in the council’s capital programme.

Officers say the council will also support 20mph limits which are funded externally or through its community match programme and, where possible, will assist local communities and parish councils to implement such schemes.