No roundabouts, just nine miles of road – and now one speed gun

The sleepy island of St Mary's in the Isles of Scilly is something of a motoring anomaly. With just nine miles of road, bereft of roundabouts or traffic lights, the biggest irony was once fact that aspiring drivers could take their test there.

That was until this week when the island woke up to news authorities had introduced the island's first-ever speed gun in a bid to crack down on hasty drivers – even though most would be hard-pressed to truly exceed even half of the island's speed limit.

The move is a milestone for St Mary's, which until now, was one of few places in Britain where drivers could travel speed-trap free. It is also quite a firm stance for an island, that according to the DVLA, has only 823 registered vehicles.

Introduced on Wednesday in a bid to bring the island up to date with UK driving laws, the speed gun has been greeted with a mixture of scepticism and shoulder-shrugging acceptance.

"We don't even own a car and usually travel around the island on bicycle," said Bryony Lishman, co-proprietor of the island's Mincarlo Guest House. "It's quite hard to break the 60mph speed limit here. In fact on most of the islands here you'd be hard pressed to move beyond second gear."

Official figures showed that fastest vehicle clocked since its introduction was a lonely moped whizzing by at a paltry 34mph. Even the Devon and Cornwall Constabulary appeared somewhat perplexed when The Independent broke the news to its residing press officer yesterday. "Speed gun in St Mary's? Really? Where did you hear that?" the spokesman enquired. "It's usually such a sedate island where everyone behaves themselves and there's hardly ever any traffic. Apart from during the summer, there's rarely ever the need for more than two police officers on the island at all."

Yet police remain adamant of the speed gun's necessity. Sergeant Charlie Craig said it would be used to enforce the laws of the land which, he said, still applied to an outpost 28 miles off Land's End. "There is an element that thinks Scilly isn't in the UK and the laws of the UK don't apply on Scilly," he argued. "Sometimes people need reminding that the laws of the land do apply here."

The gun, he added, was imported on to the island in the wake of concerns over the increasing numbers of speeding cars as well as feedback from the island's visitors. "We have a very friendly, very relaxed way of dealing with things, but there are still things that are unacceptable and we will enforce them," he said. "Driving too fast in certain areas, such as around the school, will be dealt with."

Conceding that it was unlikely that motorists could build a head of steam to break the speed limit, Sgt Craig added that the gun would be used for gathering evidence of anti-social driving in certain areas, particularly the island's main centre in Hugh Town.

"It is very unlikely that the radar gun would be used to prosecute. It is an evidence-gathering thing. If someone was driving at 40mph through Hugh Town we would clock it and say it might not be illegal but it is not a considerate way to drive."

Police Community Support Officer Shirley Graham added that the speed gun will be used for monitoring drivers, collecting data and educating motorists. "There is a perception of speeding on Scilly but we have got the national speed limit here and to go 60mph or over is impossible.

"We do get a lot of complaints – it is one of our priorities. We try to educate the drivers to the conditions of the roads – 25mph would be ideal."

But the reception among islanders remained mild. "I suppose you do get the odd person driving like a muppet," said Rhiannon Manning, 34, who works at the island's local taxi office. "Most of the lanes here are built for horse and carriages. There's no traffic and the only things that really blocks roads are the bin men. There's a road in the centre of the island, but it winds so heavily if you did try to creep beyond 60mph you'd probably crash.

"That said, it's probably a good deterrent for dangerous driving in the long-run, wouldn't you agree?" she said, seeking the thoughts of her 56-year-old mother. The response? "Don't ask me, dear. I never go beyond 20."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones