A letter from a campaigner to a councillor

This is the email sent by our campaigner Rita Antonelli in Ashtead, Surrey to a local councillor. We think it shows an excellent example of the work done by our campaigners across the country.

Thanks to Rita for allowing us to use her email.

Dear Councillor XXXX,

On 4th September I will present a well-supported community petition for “20’s Plenty - reduce traffic speeds in Ashtead” to the Mole Valley Local Committee.

Please read this email where I explain its objectives and give details in advance so that you can better understand our call for action.

We desperately need a 20mph speed limit across residential streets in Ashtead. Councillors set road speeds and this is one of the most important and life changing powers you have as our elected representatives.

I was initially motivated to ask for 20mph limits because my son was involved in a car accident while cycling to school in October 2017. Since then I realised how dangerous most of the roads are in our village. The response locally has been phenomenal. As residents, we deserve better road safety. We want to walk and cycle on our streets without fearing speeding cars. Surrey County Council has said it wants “to reduce the risk of collisions, and to make the road feel safer in order to improve the attractiveness of walking and cycling to and from schools. The county council would like to encourage safe walking and cycling to school, as this is better for the health of children, and reduces congestion and pollution [1].” The two things come hand in hand.

To be absolutely clear, with this petition we are NOT asking for humps, bumps or other expensive traffic calming measures, but ONLY for speed signs and road markings, especially visible in roads close to schools.

Technology is also changing. Car speed limiters will be fitted to all new cars from 2022 [2]. They will enforce the 20mph limit in those cars and consequently on cars behind, making vertical traffic calming increasingly unnecessary.

Surrey County Council’s own policy “Setting Local Speed Limits” (dated 2014), states: ”Within the latest central government guidance issued by the Department for Transport (Circular 01/2013)[3] there is greater encouragement for local authorities to introduce more 20mph schemes (limits and zones) in urban areas and built-up village streets that are primarily residential, to ensure greater safety for pedestrians and cyclists.” However, most of the requests asking for some speed reduction measures (41 petitions received by the Council in the last 5 years!) have failed to materialise into anything concrete.

With 1,889 recorded accidents in 2017 [4], Surrey is second, only after Kent, in the South-East region in number of accidents on minor roads (i.e. 30mph) (please see attached the gov.uk statistics). Even the small 1mph reduction in speed, reported by the Department for Transport (DfT) research as effect of a 20mph speed limit implementation, would result in an average 5% reduction in collisions [5]. More recent evidence is available where speed reductions have been implemented: when vehicles slowed on average by 1.3mph in Portsmouth, collisions reduced by 21% [6]; in Bristol, the recorded reduction in speed was of 2.7mph [7], much larger than those seen in previous evaluations in other cities, and preliminary data from Croydon Borough are giving reductions of 3.3mph. This is showing that drivers’ response to 20mph speed limits is positively changing.

Ashtead residents feel that most of the village’s residential streets are not safe enough to walk and cycle. Several lanes have no pavement and are so narrow that only one car a time can drive in it safely. If you are hit by a car travelling at 30mph, you are up to five time more likely to be killed than if you were hit at 20mph [8]. Some routes (e.g. the Craddocks Avenue/Barnett Wood Lane by-passing the high street and connecting Epsom to Leatherhead or the Ottways Lane/Grange Road and Agates/Harriotts/Skinners Lanes by-passing the long queues on Dorking Road) are used very often as rat-run by drivers impatient to avoid congestion on the A24.

With very small resources and time available (I am a mother and working 4/5 days), I have collected the names of almost 500 Ashtead neighbours – most of these are concerned parents, like me - people genuinely fearing for their children’s or grandchildren’s safety. Please listen to them. Do not wait for a fatality to occur to improve safety.

With this petition we ask the Council to carry out a public consultation to evaluate which streets may benefit from the new, reduced speed limit, and the method of implementation.

“20mph speed limit only” schemes are inexpensive measures in transport cost terms. From a series of recent estimates, the cost is about £2.5 to £3.0 per resident [9]. Where there is political will local Councillors have found funding for a wide 20mph limits.

Please find attached to this email some more additional information:

  • a preliminary cost estimation of my proposal for Ashtead. All cost data were provided by Croydon Borough Council, which implemented a similar scheme in all Borough residential streets in 2015-2017.
  • a simple FAQs sheet with answers to the most common questions about wide 20mph limit schemes
  • the road accident statistics from the Department for Transport (2017)


  • a copy of the crashmap results (https://www.crashmap.co.uk/) for Ashtead showing the accidents recorded in the last 5 years. Please note that these are all the accidents where the police were called; this does not include near misses, unreported scrapes, etc.

I hope I have provided you with all the information necessary to seriously consider my petition and proposal. I welcome any questions.

Many thanks in advance for your time and attention.

Yours sincerely,


Dr Rita Antonelli


[1] https://www.surreycc.gov.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/29847/Road_Safety_Outside_Schools_Policy_July2014.pdf

[2] https://etsc.eu/meps-back-life-saving-vehicle-safety-standards-in-key-vote/

[3] https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/63975/circular-01-2013.pdf

[4] RAS10014: Reported accidents by region, local authority, road class and vehicles licensed: England https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/ras10-reported-road-accidents

[5] https://www.rospa.com/rospaweb/docs/advice-services/road-safety/drivers/inappropriate-speed.pdf

[6] https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/20splentyforus/pages/335/attachments/original/1565973258/speed-limits-portsmouth.pdf?1565973258

[7] https://www.bristolpost.co.uk/news/bristol-news/bristol-20mph-zones-save-lives-1205025

[8] https://tfl.gov.uk/corporate/safety-and-security/road-safety/safe-speeds

[9] http://www.20splenty.org/20funding16


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  • Rod King
    published this page in Blogs 2019-08-31 21:28:07 +0100