Era of self-help is upon us

Date: Monday 13th November 2017

RESIDENTS of Newbiggin, near Stainton, this week pioneered a new community Speedwatch scheme aimed at tackling rogue drivers on their patch.

The police-backed scheme equips volunteer members of the public with hi-tech kit which spots and records details of motorists flouting the local speed limit. Enforcement action can then be taken by police.

Newbiggin is the first in a line of Eden villages the residents of which have enthusiastically embraced a new role as community speed-busters.

At Kirkby Stephen Town Council on Tuesday it was noted that a survey had revealed a staggering 3,000 drivers a day breaking the town’s 30mph speed limit.

There too, the vexing question of police presence, or lack of it, was raised and volunteers were sought to carry out an overnight traffic survey.

Continuing downward pressure on public spending is the backdrop to groups of residents feeling compelled literally to take to the streets and play their part in enforcing the law. Patrolling rural roads in search of speeders must inevitably take a low priority for constabulary bosses facing slashed budgets.

With only so many officers to go round, hard choices must be made about where best to deploy them — choices made even starker in a large rural area such as Eden. Residents of Newbiggin and elsewhere have recognised the reality of their position and have stepped up to plug a gap in services.

Eden is already a district blessed with armies of proud volunteers and this type of hands-on public involvement is likely to become more necessary in the future. An era of self-help is upon us.