An area of London is piloting a new scheme that will see the council, rather than the police, enforcing 20 mph zones. Under the arrangement in Wandsworth, south London, drivers caught exceeding the 20 mph limit will be served a penalty charge notice, rather than a fine and penalty points on their licence.

The scheme, which is billed as the first of its kind in the UK, centres around two busy residential roads in the borough – Wimbledon Park Road and Priory Lane – both of which have been the subjects of numerous complaints from local people about excessive vehicle speeds. The council claims the police “tend to concentrate” on busier roads, but most of the complaints come from residents on more populated roads.

The trial will see the council take charge of enforcement on the two roads in question, sending penalty charge notices (PCNs) to drivers exceeding the limit. Unlike the police, who can issue fines and add penalty points to drivers’ licences, the council will only be able to fine speeding motorists £130, although that fine will be halved to £65 if paid within 14 days.

20 mph sign shown on London Bridge

However, for the first few weeks of the eight-month trial, offenders will only be sent “warning letters” about their conduct. The PCNs will be issued after the “initial period” has ended, and money received from fines will be “ring-fenced” and reinvested in road safety initiatives in the borough.

The trial already has the approval of London Councils – the umbrella group representing all 32 town halls in the capital – and should the trial prove successful, Wandsworth Council says other councils across London are “likely to follow suit”.

Speeding traffic is one of the biggest sources of complaints we receive from our residents,” said council leader Cllr Simon Hogg. “Ensuring drivers stick to the 20mph limit not only improves safety levels and encourages more people to walk or cycle, it helps reduce harmful emissions too.

“Until now, only the Metropolitan Police have had powers to enforce speed limits, but they tend to concentrate their resources on main roads and dual carriageways, whereas most of the complaints we receive are about people driving too fast along quieter residential streets.

“Our pilot scheme will focus on two residential roads where excessive speeds are known to be an issue. If judged a success, we will look to make it permanent and carry out enforcement in other parts of the borough where we know vehicle speeds are excessive.”

20 mph speed limit painted on road