North Yorkshire County Council Executive Meeting 11am 11th January 2022 – Speakers from several Parish Councils joined the 20s Plenty campaign group on behalf of 59 Parish Councils and concerned residents, to request County Councillors amend their 20mph policy recommendations to make it a default 20mph.
- 20s Plenty campaign group is campaigning for a 20mph to be normal on residential streets and in town and village centres
- The Executive heard from campaigners seeking a default 20mph speed limit or zones in all built-up areas in the county.
- NYCC have said they don’t support a default limit – they voted for an “updated” 20mph policy, but it is a “targetted” policy
- Councillors encouraged communities that had had 20mph speed requests turned down to apply again
Campaigners have criticised the decision:
- The County’s policy does not allow 20mph limits without traffic-calming on any roads with current mean speeds above 24mph. It excludes many of the very roads that would benefit from the biggest speed reductions, even without physical calming measures.
- No assessment was made on the impact rejecting default 20mph policy would have on discouraging active travel and social cohesion. Numerous parish councils and community groups complained that they had not been consulted over the policy. The door was left open to a new Unitary authority revisiting the policy. It was admitted by officers that the recent successful Borders trial had not been investigated as part of the report.
Cllr Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Access and the County Council’s Road Safety Champion, said:
Saving people’s lives and making our roads as safe as possible are of the very highest priority. While every casualty is one too many, the number of people killed or seriously injured on the county’s roads is heading firmly downwards.
But there are areas where we have road safety challenges and I believe we should focus our attention and spending on those areas. These include motorcyclists – too many are killed or injured on our roads – newly qualified drivers, older drivers and drunk or drugged drivers.
One area where the incidence of accidents is relatively low is those caused by speeding in built-up areas.
That is why I do not support the introduction of default 20mph limits or zones on all roads in built-up areas. A blanket approach to 20mph speed limits would be costly and would divert resources away from dealing with the key safety issues in the county.
Lindsay Burr, Independent County Councillor for Malton and local campaigner for 20s plenty said:
Time for change, Time for action. The Time is now. 20mph within towns is the right speed limit to introduce now. Especially where children are walking to and from school, elderly people, mums and with prams and people in wheelchairs are trying to cross our busy roads. I’m passionate about introducing 20s plenty, and encourage people of all ages to feel confident to walk and cycle more within our town. Unfortunately at the moment residents are very reluctant to do this.
Residents tell me that they feel very unsafe by the high vehicle speeds in our area. It’s time to change and action is needed now!
We all want lower pollution, and to feel more safe in town. We all want to have less traffic in the streets where residents live, shop, work, and where their children play and learn.
If we introduce 20s plenty now it’s the right thing to do.
People will feel safer and vehicles will be able to travel through communities knowing that their speed is much safer for the people who live in that area.
Unfortunately this will only become possible when and if the County Council Executive get behind this initiative and takes this issue seriously and agrees to introduce the 20mph speed limits in our towns.
Cllr Mackenzie addressed a claim that air quality would be much improved by a lower speed limit. He said that while there might be a marginal improvement, the issues at all of the eight air quality management areas in the county were caused mainly by standing traffic and idling engines.
He also feared that widespread flouting of default 20mph limits, if they were not self-enforcing and introduced without engineered methods of traffic calming where speeds were higher, would lead to the public perception of a loss of control of highways safety management.
Cllr Mackenzie said:
I believe that our newly adopted policy on 20mph limits, supported by our cross-party transport scrutiny committee, is appropriate.
It sets out a clear rationale and assessment process and includes the opportunity for greater focus on the sense of place and community, particularly around schools.