Speed sign is ‘working correctly’

Councillor Jonathan Ferrari stands in front of the speed sign on Stanhope Road
Councillor Jonathan Ferrari stands in front of the speed sign on Stanhope Road

A malfunctioning speed sign – which was allegedly triggered by passing pedestrians – is now working properly.

The News revealed last month that the new sign – bought by Horncastle Town Council – was used for the first time in Stanhope Road.

The sign records data – including the speed and number of passing vehicles – which is then analysed by experts to decide whether action needs to be taken in a specific area.

Data from Stanhope Road suggested more than 2,236 vehicles had exceeded the 30mph speed limit – in less than two weeks.

The sign is supposed to have a battery life of between four to six weeks, but was triggered so often that the battery ran out after a couple of days.

Several residents contacted the News to say that it even ‘flashed’ when they were walking by – with no vehicle in site.

The various concerns prompted speculation that the sign was not working properly.

And those concerns increased when the sign was moved to Boston Road – and the battery again ran out within hours.

Now, the town council says the sign has been ‘reset’ and is working correctly.

In a statement, the council said: “We purchased the reactive speed sign as part of our commitment to road safety.

“However, as recently reported, problems were encountered with the sign shortly after the initial siting of it in Stanhope Road.

“The manufacturers of the sign have since reset and calibrated the equipment and, with the assistance of the Lincolnshire Road Safety Partnership, we are now happy that the sign is operating correctly and is fully functional.”

The statement went on to confirm the sign would be sited at various locations in the town – all previously approved by the Road Safety Partnership and Lincolnshire County Council.

It added: “There will be a rolling programme to help encourage motorists to stick to the speed limit.

“The data recorded will be shared with the road safety partnership, Lincolnshire Police and the county council’s highways department to help identify areas that may need further preventative measures.

“Horncastle Town Council, with the help of other agencies, will regularly monitor the equipment to ensure it remains fully operational so all data obtained can be considered accurate and reliable.”

Horncastle based PCSO Nigel Wass said he had always doubted the initial figures recorded by the sign after regular police checks had indicated that Stanhope Road was not a speeding ‘hot spot’.

The reactive sign stores data - including the number of vehicles and their speed - which is then analysed to decide if any action needs to be taken.

The News understands the sign on Stanhope Road records all passing calls but was only activated by those travelling at and over 33mph.

The sign was bought by Horncastle Town Council who produced figures last week that suggested 16,701 vehicles had been recorded in a two-week period in July - and 2,236 were breaking the 30mph limit.

The sign is operated by a battery which is supposed to last between four to six weeks. However, it was ‘triggered’ so often in Stanhope Road, it kept running out after a few days.

Police and councillors were so surprised by the figures, they believe the sign may have been faulty - or the data corrupted when it was downloaded.

Now, police, the county council, the Town Council and Lincolnshire Road Safety Partnership will meet to discuss the results.

County councillor Bill Aron told the News: “I understand that the data was corrupted in some way as it was not operating correctly and for a number of days was not operating at all due to a battery failure.

“During the time it was operating, there were no reports of speeding or any accidents or any incidents.

“I understand from PCSO Nigel Wass and highways officers that the sign is being looked at and the information compared with some previous data before it can be established why the figures came out as they did.”

There are claims the sign was even ‘triggered’ by people walking past it.

One motorist, who did not want to be named, said: “I was driving past and I know I was doing less than 30.

“The thing (the sign) was still flashing, saying I was doing 37 one time.”

PCSO Wass said he believed the data was ‘unreliable’.

He added police had regularly carried out speed checks on Stanhope Road and there was no evidence to suggest such a high percentage of vehicles were over the limit.

John Siddal, from Lincolnshire Road Safety Partnership, said it was not ‘unknown’ for reactive signs to malfunction.

He added that unlike police radar equipment, the signs were not ratified by the Home Office. He offered to have the Horncastle sign tested.

Many other communities have reactive signs although there is no suggestion any other might be faulty.

Horncastle Town Council purchased a reactive speed sign as part of our commitment to the road safety partnership. However, as recently reported, problems were encountered with the sign shortly after the initial siting of it in Stanhope Road. The manufacturers of the sign have since reset and calibrated the equipment and with the assistance of the Lincolnshire Road Safety Partnership, we are now happy that the sign is operating correctly and is fully functional.

The sign will continue to be located around the town on a rolling programme to help encourage motorists to stick to the speed limit. The data recorded will be shared with the Lincolnshire Road Safety Partnership, Lincolnshire Police and LCC Highways to help identify areas that may need further preventative measures. Horncastle Town Council with the help of other agencies will regularly monitor the equipment to ensure the equipment remains fully operational so that all data obtained can be considered accurate and reliable.