Plans unveiled for 20mph speed limit on stretch of Luton road

Two council departments appear to be at cross purposes over the future of a Luton road, a meeting heard.

Saturday, 27th March 2021, 6:32 pm
Updated Saturday, 27th March 2021, 6:38 pm
Wigmore Lane

Plans have been unveiled for a 20mph section on Wigmore Lane close to its junction with Hayling Drive, according to Liberal Democrat group leader and Barnfield councillor David Franks.

“But Wigmore Lane is set to become a major access route to the Century Park employment area and eventually terminal two at London Luton Airport,” he told a full council meeting.

“Could the portfolio holder for place and infrastructure advise us on his policy on introducing 20mph limits in Luton?” he asked.

“There are no plans to introduce more 20mph zones, apart from next to schools, under the current road safety policy,” replied Labour South councillor Paul Castleman, whose brief covers planning and transport.

Councillor Franks said that one department of the council was working on the airport access road strategy, while another part of the local authority plans was introducing a 20mph zone close to a roundabout.

Describing it as “a slight mystery”, he asked: “Isn’t that curious?”

Councillor Castleman said: “There was something which arose this week from the 2020/21 budget to introduce a speed limit along a length of Wigmore Lane.

“I don’t know exactly which section. I presume these departments work together.

“But I will go back to my service director on the highways side and make sure they’re talking with the planning side.”

Councillor Franks has been complaining for three years about one short journey of less than a mile where drivers encounter eight changes in speed limit.

“It’s mad and nothing has been done about it,” he explained previously. “Some sense needs to be brought to the policy.”

The route goes from Barton Road into Riddy Lane, then Birdsfoot Lane, Catsbrooke Road and on to Icknield Way.

Councillor Franks renewed his interest in this issue, saying: “If he’s not planning any further 20mph zones in the town, is he doing anything to tidy up the ones already there?”

Councillor Castleman responded: “When I spoke to the new highways manager he was waiting for the actual route details.

“I gave a directive to the highways service manager at the time, Alex Constantinides, in 2018 to review all existing 20mph zones.

“They were all different. Sometimes they had the signs up and sometimes they hadn’t.

“The directive was to maintain and update the signage, and insert the 20mph markings on the carriageway where needed.

“This process started, but unfortunately we put that on hold this year because of the emergency budget.

“I’m in talks with the new service director and the new highways manager to bring that back,” he added.

“We’re waiting to know the exact revenue cuts. We haven’t got a townwide 20mph.”

Councillor Franks wondered if there are “any plans to persuade Bedfordshire Police to enforce speed limits in the town”.

Councillor Castleman answered: “Yes, I would like that to happen. Christine Davy is no longer with us. But we’ve got a new safety manager.

“One of the topics I’m pushing for him to do is bring the draft road safety plan up-to-date because the 20mph zone wasn’t that clear, but also to see where the police can start enforcing it.”