SPEEDING in villages is partly “an issue of residents’ perception” a council’s leadership has insisted, as it finalised a scheme to allow parishes to take action themselves.

As North Yorkshire County Council’s executive passed details of a scheme to enable communities to buy and maintain their own vehicle activated signs (VAS), its leaders said the authority would take action anyway if evidence showed speeding was an issue.

The meeting heard while speeding vehicles was the top concern for residents in hundreds of villages, it remained to be seen if communities regarded it so seriously that they would be prepared to fund VAS, which would cost about £2,500. The move follows years of campaigning by some parishes, which have claimed lives are being put at risk by speeding traffic on rural roads.

Ahead of the meeting, some parish councils said the council appeared to have overcome the biggest hurdle for many local groups by identifying some signs which were affordable.

Councillor David Jeffels told the meeting while it had taken a long time to launch the scheme, it would prove “a real asset”.

He said: “In my own area, the Vale of Pickering, speeding traffic is a much greater concern than even potholes or dog fouling. I am sure there will be considerable take-up of this.”

However, the authority’s deputy leader Councillor Gareth Dadd said: “It is very easy to demand action. They have got the ability to do it themselves now. It will interesting to see how many take it up.”

The council’s highways boss, Councillor Don Mackenzie, said the authority had initially been concerned about a proliferation of signs reducing the effectiveness of speed awareness signs at places where there was evidence speeding was an issue,

Cllr Mackenzie highlighted the council’s road safety efforts, but said over the past two years the council had listened to “genuine road safety concerns” and the relaxation of the rules over VAS was its response.

He said: “This shows that the democratic processes are alive and well in North Yorkshire County Council.”

The authority’s leader, Councillor Carl Les said the move was to empower communities to respond to “what they perceive to be a problem in their village”.

He said: “Sometimes it’s a real problem, sometimes it’s only a perception. We decided that we couldn’t afford to roll out a lot more vehicle activated signs.

“We do have a number that are available to rent in the county. There is certainly a problem of perception for some villages, but there are cases where there is evidence of speeding. Where there is evidence of speeding that leads to accidents the county council steps in anyway because we have that duty to try and slow drivers down.”