Thousands of drivers motoring through Herne Bay could be slapped with “unfair” speeding tickets if a sweeping 20mph zone is introduced, campaigners fear.
KentOnline revealed last month that Kent County Council (KCC) is drawing up plans to lower the limits across a chunk of the seaside town between Central Parade and King’s Road.
Proponents of the scheme – covering every route to the east of Sea Street and west of Canterbury Road – hope it will slash the number of boy racers and crashes on the coast.
But it has run into opposition from the Alliance of British Drivers, whose members claim the changes could result in scores of responsible motorists being punished.
Group spokesman Brian Macdowall explained: “Safe drivers at today’s speeds will, when the 20mph zone is imposed, be classed as speeders.
“Imposing an artificially low limit will mean fines and points on your licence – so potentially thousands of people who are currently driving safely will be caught in the net.
“They shouldn’t be put in that scenario.
“The changes would be a complete waste of taxpayers’ money, producing no clear benefit.”
Mr Macdowall also points to a government-commissioned study three years ago that found little evidence that 20mph restrictions reduce the number of crashes and casualties in neighbourhoods.
The report, produced on behalf of the Department for Transport, also revealed that a majority of drivers break the limit in these zones.
“Speed limits are there to warn drivers of potential hazards in the road ahead; they need to be sensible and proportionate,” Mr Macdowall added.
“Blanketing an entire area with one artificially low limit undermines respect for all limits.”
KCC officers are still analysing data collected in August during preliminary traffic surveys to assess the safety of potentially installing the limit.
The tests – which took place in High Street, King’s Road and Canterbury Road – revealed that cars in the area, on average, travelled at little more than 20mph, even though a handful were seen exceeding 50mph.
Keen supporter of the changes Cllr Dan Watkins says officers are reviewing additional survey results to judge the feasibility of stretching the zone south to the railway line.
“I’ve not had a single complaint about this, and I’ve had several bits of correspondence supporting the scheme,” said the Conservative, who is a member of both KCC and Canterbury City Council.
“Every single person wants it to be in and to succeed. The town will be nicer, safer, cleaner.
“Residents may have a slightly slower journey, but they’ll have a better experience when on foot or out and about on their bikes.”
Cllr Watkins expects the authority to launch a public consultation into the proposed changes in November.
A KCC spokesman added: “Any change to speed limits will require a public consultation and will be subject to funding being sourced.”