Fife Council accused of 'dereliction of duty' for axing 20mph limit ignored by drivers

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Road safety campaigners claim that the reintroduction of a 30mph speed limit on a 20mph road amounts to a "dereliction of duty" by Fife Council.

St Andrews Space for Cycling (SASC), a group promoting cycle use in and around the Fife town, says the decision to raise the limit on the B9130 at Markinch sends out the wrong message and only serves to bolster "macho motorists" who see themselves as above speed limits.

Glenrothes area councillors agreed last month to re-introduce the 30mph limit after five years because 85% of motorists were driving at around that speed rather than obeying the 20mph limit between Bowen Place and the junction connecting to Balbirnie Estate.

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Up to £10,000 of public money has been set aside to remove and replace 20mph signage and to install traffic calming measures to ensure drivers stick to the limit - but SASC says this could set a precedent for other areas.

20MPH sign20MPH sign
20MPH sign

Tony Waterston, chair of SASC, said: "This is setting a bad example. We're trying very hard to get 20mph speed limits in St Andrews and Fife Council is letting it be up to the motorists [to dictate their speed].

"Are we to understand that motorists are expected to decide what is the right speed limit for any road they drive on? Is this Fife Council policy?

"It's really pretty shocking, the view that the council took. It's extraordinary.

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"It seems to be saying it shouldn't be 20mph because drivers won't obey it.

Cllr Altany CraikCllr Altany Craik
Cllr Altany Craik

"Just because there are difficulties with enforcement doesn't mean you shouldn't put lower speed limits in.

"We [SASC] consider this change of policy to be a dereliction of duty by the council."

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In a plea to the authority, he added: "Please please, put the safety of children, the elderly and cyclists ahead of macho motorists who are not prepared to reduce their speed for 10 minutes or less whilst passing through a built up area."

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Cllr Altany Craik, transportation convener on Fife Council's administration, has denied SASC's claims that a precedent is being set.

"I wasn't happy with [drivers setting their own speed] as a reason for doing anything," Craik said in a self-labelled "understatement of the day".

"I think that came out at the committee and I'm not at all surprised that cycling groups and others are unhappy that this seems to be making a rod for our own back."

Investigation work is ongoing to assess which measures would suit the B9130 best.

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Transporation officers are considering a number of options, from chicanes to road-narrowing islands and "dragons teeth" markings that give the impression the road is narrower than it is.

Cllr Craik added: "We need to take a more circumspect view of what we're asking for with speed limits and what [each decision] means for the whole of Fife.

"This is now for the Glenrothes area committee to work on, and it should not be precedent-setting. I don't think we'll see a rush of people asking for speed limits to be changed."

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