Can you help me assemble some facts to oppose the installation of speed humps in my local town centre?

I read with some concern in The Stamford Mercury that Lincolnshire Highways Department proposes to install, at an estimated cost of £60,000, 21 speed bumps in Stamford town centre as part of a scheme to impose a 20mph limit through the town. In case you are unfamiliar with Stamford, it is a small market town of 30,000 inhabitants and, through a combination of parked cars, delivery vehicles, pedestrians and narrow roads, it is virtually impossible to exceed 20mph as it is. Stamford Town Councillors are so concerned at this proposal that they have called an extraordinary public meeting for next Tuesday.

I propose to speak at this meeting, so must marshal my facts. Do I recall correctly from your articles about speed bumps that the points against them are that they cause damage to the road surface on either side, damage to vehicle tyres, damage to vehicle suspensions, produce shock waves that damage nearby buildings (Stamford is well known nationally for its ancient stone buildings) and cause increased pollution and noise as a result of the stop-start progress imposed on traffic?

Is it likely that vehicle and building owners could sue local authorities successfully for the kind of damage I mention? It is, of course, possible that this is an example of the tried and tested government tactic of putting forward a ridiculous proposal to generate a public furore in readiness to follow it up with the real, less extreme, proposal, dressed up as "responding to public concern" but I do not want to take any chances.

Asked on 14 October 2010 by MS, Stamford

Answered by Honest John
Humps are a ridiculous waste of money, and you can be sure that some contractor is taking a significant profit out of that £60,000 for the job. I can't understand why funding for this sort of thing is still allocated. I thought our sensible, cost-conscious new Government had put a clamp on this sort of profligacy. But if the local ratepayers are paying then you need to know exactly what you are paying for and who is getting what. Go out and get competitive quotes for the work, if necessary. It would have been far better to install stretches of different types of paving in the centre, such as cobbles, brick sections, etc, to make drivers think they have strayed into a pedestrian area.

An excellent example of this is Brighton Road, Coulsdon (Coulsdon High Street). This psychologically restricts drivers to 20mph or less whatever the limit is. Humps are not only destructive of cars, they cause damage to the substructure of the roads and to surrounding buildings. If the foundations of one old building adjacent to these new humps was damaged through earth tremors, the owner could potentially sue the council for millions in rectification work. If sewers and water mains collapse as a result then the water companies will sue the council.

(MS later wrote that the proposal met total opposition from Stamford's town councillors and the public. It was later announced in The Stamford Mercury w/c 8-11-2010 that Lincolnshire County Council's highways officers will recommend that the proposal be dropped.)
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