SPEED limits and safety on the county’s rural roads was the subject of debate at a West Sussex County Council meeting.

The issue was raised by Dr Kate O’Kelly (Lib Dem, Midhurst), who tabled a notice of motion supporting the ongoing work on a new transport plan for the county.

Dr O’Kelly told the meeting that people wanted ‘more of a say’ about the speeds allowed on roads in their areas, adding that there was ‘a lot of frustration with the bureaucratic, slow and inflexible process’ of getting things changed.

She said: “The national speed limit is just not appropriate for many quiet, rural roads.

“Rural, narrow lanes were not designed for 60mph cars and if we could do something to reduce speed here that would be extremely welcome and could decrease our numbers killed on the roads every year.

“Residents want to feel safer on their local roads when they use them – crucially they want to be more confident when they consider walking and cycling.

“And we need more short journeys to be made on foot or on bike.

“We’ve all agreed that climate change is an over-arching theme for all our decisions.

“If we can make our roads feel safer and more people are encouraged to walk and cycle rather than use their car then we reduce emissions which is vital as we move to net zero.

“Also it makes us all healthier if we walk and cycle more, massively improving public health, which is a goal we all seek, and vitally it reduces air pollution as well.”

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There was plenty of support for the idea of reducing speeds on the county’s smaller roads, especially along ‘quiet lanes’.

These are minor rural roads mainly used by walkers, cyclists and horse riders as well as cars.

Amanda Jupp (Con, Billingshurt) said the national speed limit in such rural areas needed to be reduced to 40mph, adding: “We really need the government to step up and help us in this journey.”

The council is currently consulting on a new transport plan, which will set the strategy for future investment in highways and transport infrastructure.

It is expected to be ready for scrutiny early in the new year.

Once the plan is adopted, new road safety and speed limit policies are expected to follow.

In a briefing note to the meeting, Lee Harris, director place services, said: “This will afford the county council the opportunity to review its approach to setting speed limits and work closely with associated stakeholders including the police, health authorities and communities in establishing a workable and effective process.

“The specific issue of quiet lanes will be addressed as part of the new road safety framework.

“In the meantime, the county council is looking at sites that would be effective as demonstrator projects to understand how effective such schemes could be.”

Dr James Walsh (Lib Dem, Littlehampton East) asked for Rustington to be added to that list of sites.

He pointed out that Blind Veterans UK – a charity which helps ex-Service men and women overcome sight loss – would be moving to the village.