Agenda item

Motion 876 - Call to adopt 20mph maximum speeds in areas where vulnerable road users and vehicles mix

To consider the issues surrounding the widespread introduction of 20mph maximum speeds as raised in the Motion 876 to Council In June 2021.

Minutes:

5.1       The Chair began by inviting Cllrs Roger Whyborn and Gill Moseley to introduce this item as the original proposers and seconders of the motion. Members noted the following points:

 

·         This motion received no objection in principle or spirit at the Full Council meeting where it was originally considered, as long as any changes were where the community considered them to be appropriate.

·         A common sense and consulted approach was very important, we must not impose the limits, each community should be able to make their own case as to what was most appropriate for their area.

·         The importance of 20mph speed limits revolved a lot around safety and claiming streets back from constant, fast traffic. If residents felt safe, they were more likely to walk or cycle which brought its own health and environmental benefits.

·         Members were aware that the need for Traffic Regulation Orders (TRO) to change speed limits was often preventing parish/town councils from progressing even where there was an appetite due to the cost of obtaining one.

·         A solution to this could be to consider ‘batching’ which was referenced at 6.8 of the attached report where one TRO was used for several areas.

·         The police were a key consultee on this issue for any changes to be implemented/successful.

·         There would also need to be some financial commitment in next years budget for changes to be possible.

·         Learning from other areas in the UK who had taken similar action was welcomed in the report.

·         Both members were keen that a response from this Committee was eventually shared with Council and Cabinet and wanted to understand the process for this happening.

·         Whilst the recommendations in the report were supported by both members, there was an ask to add a point about engaging with communities to discover the appetite for a change to widespread 20mph speed limits.

 

5.2       Liz Kirkham, Network Manager, was next invited to present the report. This was taken as read and the following points highlighted for the Committee:

 

·         The level of applications for 20mph limits had increased over recent years, particularly noticed through Covid, where communities potentially had more time to take pride in their areas and consider such changes.

·         In order for any speed change to be a success, support was needed from across the board, including the police who were a statutory consultee.

·         Change to a 20mph speed limit required speeds in an area to be below 24mph whereas a change to a 20mph speed zone did not carry this requirement, but meant that traffic calming measure had to be added.

·         The Road Safety Partnership produced a ‘Community Approaches to Road Safety’ document which provided a range of ways communities could become involved in reducing traffic speeds.

·         The Welsh Government had introduced a default 20mph speed limit nationwide, whilst the DfT had indicated this power would remain with local highways departments.

·         There were a number of existing 20mph schemes in the county, listed at 3.4. Members were informed that as an example of cost – the Hatherley scheme cost around £200,000, funded through S106 monies, whilst a smaller scheme in Nailsworth cost around £25,000. There were also examples of developer led schemes where all costs and the engineering involved would be covered within the construction.

·         Section 4 of the report explored potential visions that the motion could achieve for the future of local roads. The example vision statements covered different areas of concern such as making people feel safe on the highway and improving their quality of life, tackling climate change and reducing the need for car use.

·         Section 5 provided an overview of stakeholders involved. The list demonstrated there was often a lot of different competing requirements. For example, in order to reduce capacity strain on the police in enforcing speed limits, there needed to be traffic calming measures, but these were not welcomed by buses and emergency vehicles.

·         It was also very important to bring drivers on the journey and have a strong communications plan so all parties understood what the changes were, and why they were being made, to enable buy in from all sides.

·         The type of Traffic Regulation Order used for speed changes would have to be permanent.

·         6.8 outlined how the council was proposing to spend the additional £100,000 allocated in this year’s budget.

·         The consultative nature of this process meant it could be a long and costly, a lot slower than people many think.

·         Finally, members were referred to the recommendations listed at the end of the report.

 

5.3       Noting the recommendations, a member explained that there was a link between a decrease in speed with a reduction in exhaust emissions, and that the main benefit of these changes needed to be the incentivisation of active travel. Although they understood the need to learn and watch other areas take this step, it was felt Gloucestershire should also have the courage to do the right thing and implement this motion. They particularly noted a line in the report that every 1mph reduction in speed, led to a 6% decrease in collisions and fatalities.

 

5.4       A member shared that 20mph zones had been used in their division for some time now and it generally worked well, most drove sensible through the area and those that didn’t stood out. There was a general issue of enforcement as it required the police to be in the right place at the right time. The local community were encouraged to report speeding to the police.

 

5.5       Concern was raised at the high costs reflected in the report. The scheme in Hatherley for example seemed small in comparison to its cost. Officers advised that if you want to introduce a 20mph limit into an area that did not already have low speeds, there was a requirement to install physical traffic calming measures (which is where the cost began to mount up). A simple scheme with minor signage would cost around £12-25,000.

 

5.6       Several members welcomed the approach taken in Oxfordshire where they had implemented wide spread 20mph with minimal or no traffic calming measures and wondered how much appetite there would be for that approach.

 

5.7       It was suggested that it would be more beneficial for the county as a whole to be able to offer a package of broader options that resulted in the same outcome, improving road safety.

 

5.8       A member queried the process of objections against a TRO. It was advised that anyone can object to a TRO during the consultation process, it there were sufficient objections, the Council would not proceed or it would be taken to the TRO Committee for a resolution.

 

Additional recommendations

 

5.9       Whilst the Committee accepted and supported the recommendations outlined in the report, there was discussion on adding several additional proposals for officers to explore:

 

a)    The need for an allocation in next year’s budget, plus to explore possible ways of drawing in external funding.

b)    An emphasis on working with the police to enable better support of these schemes and the need to enforce them (to include self-enforcing technologies)

c)    Consultation with local areas to understand their appetite for adopting 20mph speed limits.

d)    Exploring and learning from other local authority areas who had already made similar changes.

e)    The provision of a wider offer to communities on alternative and broader options that resulted in the same outcome, improving road safety.

f)     The consideration of batching TROs to improve efficiencies.

 

5.10    Whilst the Committee agreed on most of the above, point (e) was disagreed on. It was felt by some members that adding this would reduce the emphasis on moving towards 20mph zones/limits which was the reason behind the original motion. It was noted however that as the motion was referred to scrutiny to explore, it was within its power to move and explore outside the specifics of the motion.

 

5.11    An action was taken to produce a summary document of the additional proposed areas of exploration to be shared with the Lead Cabinet Member. The disagreement on point (e) would be reflected within this.

 

ACTION:       Democratic Services

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