Councillors’ change of heart after police object to big speed cut

Brenda Road, Hartlepool looking from B&Q roundabout in the direction of Seaton Lane.
Brenda Road, Hartlepool looking from B&Q roundabout in the direction of Seaton Lane.

A stretch of a Hartlepool road will not have its speed limit slashed by 20mph after objections from the police it would not be enforceable.

Councillors previously agreed to reduce the speed limit for the whole of Brenda Road between Belle Vue Way and Seaton Lane to 30mph.

At 30mph, you would potentially have 6,600 people a day exceeding the speed limit

Neil Empson, Cleveland Police

It followed the death of schoolboy Rhys Hewitt on the road and the area becoming more popular with people visiting the Tees Bay retail park.

But the section between the retail park roundabout and Seaton Lane junction will now be made a 40mph limit instead of 30mph. The speed limit in that area is currently 50mph.

Police warned the council’s Neighbourhood Services Committee such a big reduction would be tough to enforce and many drivers would be caught out.

Neil Empson, of Cleveland Police’s traffic management, said of the proposed 30mph limit: “If you were to change it the road would be exactly the same so drivers could be forgiven for thinking it was still in a 50 and 50mph would be appropriate.

“At 30mph, you would potentially have 6,600 people a day exceeding the speed limit.

“We don’t think that’s fair to the motorists and yourselves trying to ensure the safety of all road users be it vehicle or pedestrian.

“A 40mph limit would still get 85% of traffic travelling within that limit.”

Stagecoach also expressed concerns that a reduction in speed limit by 20mph could affect journey times on their 10-minute Service 1.

Department for Transport guidance indicated 40mph or 50mph was appropriate for the road due to it being in an industrial area, being a long straight road and buildings set back.

And accident records showed that there had only been one accident in the last five years between the B&Q and Seaton Lane roundabouts and was down to the driver suffering a medical episode.

Councillor George Springer suggested 30mph would be appropriate as that is the same limit as Seaton Lane the road joins.

He said: “Why not make it 30mph because it’s going to help people to slow down ready to what they are going to meet?”

As a compromise the committee decided to add a new pedestrian crossing close to Seaton Lane where there are houses.

Committee chair Coun Marjorie James said: “I think we can get a compromise that meets all needs and still have that official 40mph speed limit.

“For the police to come here and put in a comment it’s important that we get this right.”

The limit between the B&Q roundabout and Belle Vue Way where Rhys was hit by a car will still be reduced from 40mph currently to 30mph.