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Potholes and not speed limits is where our cash should go, council told

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Hundreds of thousands of pounds have been secured by Cambridgeshire County Council to roll out 20mph speed limits – but in Wisbech the town council says the cash would be better spent on potholes.

Research by CambsNews has revealed that earlier this year the town council passed a motion agreeing that “in the absence of enforcement and the implementation of physical traffic calming measures, there would be little or no compliance by motorists with the reduced speed limits.

Motion last year from Cllr Mark Goldsack (Con) ‘This Council therefore requests that a report be produced for a future Highways and Transport Committee detailing a review of all National Speed Limit access roads that lead into 30MPH road inhabited areas’. His motion has created momentum for change and investment.

Motion last year from Cllr Mark Goldsack (Con) ‘This council therefore requests that a report be produced for a future Highways and Transport Committee detailing a review of all National Speed Limit access roads that lead into 30MPH road inhabited areas’. His motion has created momentum for change and investment.

“The council is also of the opinion that a more effective use of the funding which had been made available for the introduction of 20 mph speed limits would be the repair of potholes.”

Indeed, according to the minutes of the meeting, “the opinion was expressed by Councillor (Steve) Tierney -also a district and county councillor- that many of the members of Cambridgeshire Council hate cars; they see them as a major contributor to global warming”.

The town council seems, however, to be in a minority.

A year ago, on a motion from a Conservative councillor, Cambridgeshire County Council agreed unanimously to promote measures to slow down motorists approaching residential areas.

The cross-party motion, put by Cllr Mark Goldsack (Con) and seconded by Cllr Lorna Dupre (Lib Dem) the council agreed that its highways and transport committee should try to simplify and promote local applications for ‘buffer zones’.

This would allow villages and towns to support 20mph limits as motorists drive into or through the town or village -and slow them down.

Cllr Goldsack spoke enthusiastically about how a buffer zone has helped his own village of Isleham where one of “brilliantly designed” two and half years previously by highways officers.

He told of what had happened previously, quoting the example of a wall being demolished “four out of five winters by cars coming in at excess speed and not being able to make the bend”.

Motorists hit the wall and the lady who lived there had put reflector shields up as a warning.

“She’d even put dummy people up to try and stop the wall getting knocked down,” said Cllr Goldsack.

He said buffer zones were “a great addition to safety” and he was grateful for all party support for his motion.

And so it came to pass, with councillors voting enthusiastically in favour of support for such safety measures.

 

Indeed, 20mph schemes are now being rolled out across parts of Cambridgeshire to help improve road safety.

To Wisbech we shall return, but to remain positive, for now, the 20mph campaign is gathering pace across at least much of the county.

Places where 20mph is coming

20mph areas are being installed, and in some cases completed, are Stilton, Godmanchester, St Neots, Woodhurst, Somersham, Great Gransden, Toft, Oakington, Barton, Hauxton, Melbourn, Sawston and Duxford.

The work involves installing signs, lines and markings and all schemes will be in place and completed by the end of July.

Cllr Alex Beckett, chair of the highways and transport committee, was joined by local councillors and Melbourn Parish Council last month to see their 20mph zone completed and in action.

“Speed kills,” he said. “Studies have shown even a 1mph drop in speed reduces collisions by 6%. Reducing speed limits from 30mph to 20mph can cut pollution by 30% and reduce the chance of a severe or fatal injury in the event of a collision by a staggering 60%.

“This is why it’s important we continue to create more 20mph areas.

The county council has even put in place a new process for communities to access additional funding to install more 20mph zones or limits. This year’s schemes will be going to committee later in the autumn.

“Improving road safety through 20mph schemes is a priority of the council’s Joint Administration which has highlighted several benefits from the programme, including safer streets which allow residents to feel safe when walking or cycling and reduced noise and pollution,” said a council spokesperson.

Another area benefitting from a new 20mph zone is Oakington.

Oakington & Westwick Parish Council said: “We’ve suffered with ongoing speeding issues in our village and following a successful funding application, a 20MPH zone covering most of Oakington was implemented combined with traffic calming features.

“We have noticed speeds have dropped, there are still drivers who speed, but the high number who drive at 20MPH are clearly having a positive impact on reducing speeds overall and consequently making the roads and footways safer for all users.

“From Oakington & Westwick Parish Council’s perspective, the scheme has been highly successful.”

Overall, 13 areas have seen 20mph zones created and installed more quickly this year following the all-party support.

And in addition to the £400,000 for this process (until 2025), a further £800,000 has been secured in partnership with the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, for area-based schemes, across the county.

Town clerk and 20mph limit

But to return to Wisbech, and to its meeting of March 27 this year, where the clerk Terry Jordan brought members attention to the annual 20 mph funding programme.

The minutes go into detail with Mr Jordan explaining that the county council has created an annual 20 mph funding programme to install either 20 mph zones or limits across the county.

He stressed that the programme will open for applications annually and anyone can apply but only if they have the support of their local county councillor.

Mr Jordan explained that the county council is of the opinion that 20 mph restrictions would:

  • make streets safer by reducing speeds and enabling a more equitable use of the road space for all users (vulnerable road users, sustainable transport, businesses, and car users)
  • encourage residents to walk or cycle by reducing speeds
  • reduce noise and pollution by amending the way vehicles accelerate/decelerate. The point is made by the county council that the initiative will not be compulsory, but the expectation is that the greater level of coverage that is attained across the county, the greater level of compliance there would be

In terms of eligibility, a new 20 mph limit would need to be in an area with features that justify a lower speed limit to drivers; for example, an area that has:

  • evidence of traffic incidents or potential dangers within an existing 30/40 mph
  • vulnerable road users e.g., pedestrians (of all ability), cyclists, equestrian users, and motorcyclists • visible homes, shops, and business frontages
  • a school or a school route
  • a cycling route
  • a quiet lane designation
  • an area that would benefit from more active travel such as cycling and walking.

“The county council makes the point that, wherever possible, 20 mph limits should be ‘self‐ enforcing’ and applicants should satisfy themselves, prior to making an application, that their proposed 20 mph speed limit is located within in an area where reduced vehicles speeds are achievable,” his minutes from that meeting record.

“Applicants should also be confident that the majority of motorists would comply with the reduced limit. There should be no expectation on the police to provide additional enforcement beyond their current routine activity.”

“Members were invited by the clerk to consider the submission of an application.

“Councillor Tierney expressed the opinion that what is being proposed by the county council is disingenuous.

“He mentioned that the county council is proposing a town-wide approach to this initiative, which he considers to be inappropriate.

“He commented that he would, however, be supportive of the introduction of 20 mph speed limits in the immediate vicinity of schools, in areas where the residents so desire or where there is evidence that a lower speed limit would have reduced the number of recorded accidents.

“Councillor Tierney expressed the opinion that motorists would not abide by a 20-mph speed limit, especially in the absence of enforcement by the police; he added that a reduction in vehicle speeds is usually only achieved through the implementation of physical measures (such as traffic calming).”

The minutes add that Cllr Tierney “commented that he would not be surprised to see, as a future measure to reduce the number of cars being used in Cambridgeshire, the introduction of ‘road pricing’”.

Wisbech Town Council is not supportive of a town-wide approach to the implementation of 20 mph speed limits, as opposed to small areas (such as in the immediate facility of schools), it has decided that it will not be submitting an application.

Wisbech Town Council is not supportive of a town-wide approach to the implementation of 20 mph speed limits, as opposed to small areas (such as in the immediate facility of schools), it has decided that it will not be submitting an application. Council’s approach led by Cllr Steve Tierney (right)Mr Jordan recorded that members decided, unanimously, on the proposal of Councillor Tierney, seconded by Councillor Maul, that the response to Cambridgeshire County Council’s invitation to submit an application be as follows:

“As Wisbech Town Council is not supportive of a town-wide approach to the implementation of 20 mph speed limits, as opposed to small areas (such as in the immediate facility of schools), it has decided that it will not be submitting an application.

“The council would, however, be prepared to consider making an application for some individual small areas (such as in the immediate vicinity of schools) if that were possible.”

  • Has your town or parish council failed to support the 20mph roll out by not submitting funding bids? Alert CambsNews by email please to john@cambsnews.co.uk

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