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A31 will stay at 70mph says transport minster
8:42am Wednesday 14th August 2013 in News
CAMPAIGNERS fighting for a lower speed limit on the A31 into Dorset have had their hopes crushed.
Transport minister Stephen Hammond has rejected calls to cut the 70mph limit on the A31 – just weeks after saying he was “minded” to order a reduction.
Campaigners stepped up their battle earlier this year after 16-year-old Jade Clark, pictured, was killed riding her moped along the A31 near Ringwood.
But the Highways Agency has told the minister that speed was a factor in only two of the 59 accidents on the A31 over the past three years.
Ringwood councillor Michael Thierry, who was part of the delegation, said: “The minister has backtracked.
“The Highways Agency persuaded him that the data did not justify a 50mph limit, which is a touch disappointing.”
However, the minister has supported improvements to signage to reduce the number of crashes caused by last-minute lane switching.
Cllr Thierry added: “The council ran a very effective campaign.
“It’s not often that a secretary of state agrees to meet a delegation from a small local authority.”
Yesterday an accident just after the Ringwood roundabout caused two-mile rush hour tailbacks.
Desmond Swayne, Tory MP for New Forest West, was also part of the delegation, and confirmed that the minister had been “persuaded against” a 50mph limit.
He added: “The good news is that the Highways Agency accepts there’s a road safety issue and believes the council’s analysis of the signs is correct.
“They want to work with the council to implement new signs as far back as Picket Post and the Ashley Heath roundabout.”
Ringwood’s mayor, Cllr Steve Rippon-Swaine said: “All parties concede that the signage needs to be improved.
“Clearly we’ve made an impression and something is going to be done.”
The Highways Agency said information relating to the cause of accidents on the A31 came from Hampshire Police.
However, a Highways Agency spokesman claimed that a 50mph limit was still “under consideration” and said Mr Hammond would be contacting the town council.
A letter from Mr Hammond on his decision is likely to be sent out later this week.
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