Lobby your MP - action needed on speeding vehicles in Exmouth

Concerns have been raised about the speed of traffic in Exmouth

Concerns have been raised about the speed of traffic in Exmouth - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Author Graham Hurley writes for the Journal.

Exmouth author Graham Hurley

Exmouth author Graham Hurley - Credit: Graham Hurley

Traffic generates the politics of despair. Over the past few years, I’ve had a number of conversations with experts in the field.

One of them worked for Devon County Council and had specialist knowledge in the field of traffic management. Others were police officers, charged with enforcing both speed and noise limits. A handful are councillors.

To each of these individuals, I put the same question: the law is openly flouted every working day. At weekends, if you happen to live within earshot of Exmouth seafront or are simply out for a walk, you’re at risk of being deafened.

This doesn’t happen by accident. Cars and motor bikes are specially adapted and then driven to declare a presence.

Should they thereby wind the rest of us up, then so much the better. In a society addicted to noise, it pays to be loud, and then louder still.

So why does it happen? And how come these urban joyriders get away with it?

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Some of the answers disappear into a spiral of technicalities about traffic flows, resource constraints, unintended consequences, and public consent.

The police, more honest, simply accept that they now lack both the time and the manpower to do much about it.

As a society, they point out, we’ve voted on three occasions for Conservative or coalition governments.

Shrinking the public realm has consequences, and towns blighted by urban cowboys is one of them. If you want a proper police force, you’ll have to pay for it, a handy truth cherished by every driver in every pimped car.

Then came a final conversation, this time with a councillor. We’d been mulling over the current plague of customised exhausts and howling Kawasakis, when he looked me in the eye and said there was only one answer.

‘A child has to die,’ he said.

‘Die how?’

‘Knocked over on the seafront by some clown driving way too fast. Ideally on a busy Sunday in front of dozens of witnesses. Only then might something have to happen.’ He offered a wan smile. ‘We’d call it Emma’s Law, after the dead little girl, and public pressure might do the rest.’

Might? Has it come to this? That we have to wish death on a child to ask for order and sanity on our roads?

Two suggestions, both dangerously obvious. One, impose a 20mph speed limit on every Exmouth road except the handful of major routes deemed key to the town:

Exeter Road and Salterton Road, and perhaps Dinan Way. Definitely not Imperial Road, nor Alexandra Terrace, nor any portion of the seafront.

Why? Because the faster you go, the more momentum you acquire, and the more damage you’ll do when things get out of control. Road safety on urban roads boils down to the law of physics. End of. 20mph, incidentally, would also help spare us a lungful of particulates.

Two, install speed cameras on all the favoured hooligan routes. And then invest the torrent of speeding fines into local improvements.

Not so fast, mutter the experts. What about the initial capital investment? Who pays for all these cameras? And how do you keep the winnings – the fines – out of the hands of HM Treasury?

Good questions. At the moment, the money from speeding cameras goes to the Consolidated Fund, the Government’s account at the Bank of England.

So the very agency that denies us an effective police force, able to tackle joyriders, gets to benefit from the profits of speeding. To what end? This is the choke-hold that Westminster and Whitehall have on our peace and quiet.

Speed cameras, within less than a year, would pay for themselves. And after that, they’d earn us a great deal of money.

Your local MP is a Tory. He’s on the rise. His name is Simon Jupp.

He has the ear of ministers. Write to him. E-mail him. What’s App him. Give him a ring. Tell him that leaving all our weekends at the mercy of a bunch of hooligans is no longer good enough.

We don’t need to wait for the death of a child. Let’s sort it now.

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