Villages to be allowed to install own vehicle activated speed signs

Community leaders have given a cautious welcome to a long-awaited scheme to enable them to take action against speeding motorists.

North Yorkshire County Council’s leading members are expected to approve a revamp of its rules over vehicle activated signs (VAS), including allowing parishes to buy their own signs from next month, following mounting concerns in scores of villages over speeding traffic.

While the authority has suggested speeding in some villages is a matter of perception rather than reality, more than 70 parishes have stated they would consider buying a VAS which show the area’s speed limit and the council has indicated it anticipates a strong demand for the scheme.

Ahead of a meeting of the authority’s executive, some parish councils said the council appeared to have overcome the biggest hurdle for many local groups by identifying some signs which were affordable.

In a report to executive members, officers state communities can buy any VAS which conform to the council’s rules and highlighted a “competitive” quote from one manufacturer of £2,500, plus VAT, which is significantly less than many parishes had expected.

While officers stated “it is important the signs are financially viable”, they added community groups would also have to have a minimum of £5,000,000 of public liability insurance in place and agree to pay to install and maintain the VAS.

However, while parishes have expressed frustration over the council stipulating rules over the signs, officers said it was essential every VAS must display the speed limit and a slow down message and moved around a number of sites in a village.

Officers also emphasised that speed indicator devices would not be approved for use, due to concerns that they could encourage some motorists to intentionally register higher speeds.

Councillor Gordon Davies, chairman of Middleton Tyas Parish Council, near Scotch Corner, said the proposed scheme appeared to be “a step forward”, but its details would need studying before a decision was made over whether to buy a VAS.

He said the speed of traffic through the village showed no signs of abating and while a group of volunteers was ready to launch a Community Speed Watch scheme, further action was needed.

Cllr Davies said: “Some of the speeds are crazy. This morning there was a bus heading to Scotch Corner that came through the village like a bullet.”

The county council’s executive member for highways, Councillor Don Mackenzie, said while there were concerns a proliferation of VAS may reduce the impact of the signs already in place, the authority had listened to calls to enable communities to take action to deter speeding.

He said: “Many parishes have expressed an interest in being able to purchase and install their own vehicle activated signs on the highway in their communities to deter speeding.”