Councillors and police have reiterated that motorists breaking new 20mph speed limits in Cornwall could face prosecution. Cornwall Council’s Cabinet yesterday agreed to continue with its rollout of 20mph zones in built up areas in a move to improve safety on roads.

The scheme has already been successfully piloted in Falmouth, Penryn and Camelford and is now set to be rolled out across Cornwall. The scheme will cut the speed limit in areas currently 30mph to 20mph with new signage.

There have been claims online that the new 20mph limits would not be enforceable but it was confirmed at yesterday’s meeting that motorists could be penalised if they break the limit.

Cabinet member Martyn Alvey said at yesterday’s meeting that he wanted to shatter some of the myths around the scheme. He said: “There is a myth that the police won’t enforce the 20mph limits – they will. The police have the equipment to enforce 20mph.”

Cllr Alvey said that community speedwatch schemes across Cornwall would also work alongside police to enforce the new limits. He added: “20mph can be enforced and will be enforced.”

Adrian Leisk, head of road safety at Devon and Cornwall Police, said that Cllr Alvey was correct and that police would enforce 20mph limits. Richard Kent-Woolsey, force operations manager of the road safety team, said that under guidelines motorists could be prosecuted if recorded travelling at 24mph in a 20mph zone.

He said: “The key to the 20mph is the recognition and understanding and obeyance of members of the public. It is important for us to have that monitoring of 20mph speed and active obeyance of that speed.

“What we don’t want to do is start prosecuting everyone at 24mph. We want to engage a community speedwatch first as part of the strategy.”

Councillors heard that the police would ask community speedwatch teams to monitor speeds first if there was a recognised issue of people breaking the 20mph speed limit and this would be combined with a programme of engagement to ensure that motorists are aware of the lower limits. However, if there continued to be issues the police said that they could and would put teams in place to monitor speeds and prosecute drivers if necessary.

Cabinet members said that the 20mph scheme had been a key manifesto promise for the Conservatives before the local elections in 2021 and they were keen to ensure that it does get rolled out across Cornwall.

Connor Donnithorne, Cabinet member for transport, said: “The clear message I hear wherever I visit in Cornwall is that communities are desperate for their roads in their villages and towns to be safer and this delivers a key part on that desire which is quite passionate in Cornwall.”

The schedule for the rollout of the 20mph, with Phase 1 completed in Falmouth, Penryn and Camelford, is as follows:

  • Phase 2 (2023) – Camborne, Pool, Redruth, Illogan; West Penwith; Truro and The Roseland

  • Phase 3 (2024) – Hayle and St Ives; St Austell and Mevagissey; Newquay and St Columb; Cornwall Gateway (Saltash and Torpoint area); Liskeard and Looe; China Clay area

  • Phase 4 (2025) – Helston and South Kerrier; Bude; Launceston

  • Phase 5 (2026) – Wadebridge and Padstow; Bodmin; Caradon (Callington and Calstock area); St Blazey, Fowey and Lostwithiel; St Agnes and Perranporth