Calls for blanket 20mph speed limit dismissed again
Last updated Jan 11, 2022

Calls to introduce a default 20mph speed limit in built-up areas across North Yorkshire have again been unanimously dismissed after the highways authority said it would target road safety funding where it could make a bigger impact.

A meeting of North Yorkshire County Council’s executive saw a series of changes to the authority’s 20mph policy and agreement among all the leading councillors that a targeted approach to low speed zones be continued.

Councillors said a blanket approach could cost up to £12m to introduce, leading to a council tax hike.

The meeting heard from numerous pressure groups, parish councils and residents who claimed the authority was out of step with both a growing national and local desire to lower 30mph limits in towns and villages.

The move was backed by parish councils in the Harrogate district and prominent Harrogate environmental campaigner, Malcolm Margolis.

Ian Conlon, of the 20s Plenty for Us campaign group told the meeting some 59 parish councils in the county had voted for 20mph limits.

He said: 

“Parish councils are your eyes and ears to the ground by reporting ongoing problems.”

Mr Conlon said the authority’s policy was frustrating the key government policy of encouraging active travel, as well as affecting community cohesion.

He emphasised that perception of danger was important, rather than just accident statistics, which the council appeared to rely on.

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The meeting heard that Department for Transport figures highlighted how each fatality cost the pubic purse some £2m, and serious injuries cost about £250,000.

Monaco Grand Prix

Mick Johnston, of Thirsk and Malton Labour Party, said the council needed to undertake a “radical rethink” rather than look at old government circulars and outdated reports, and end the “interminable process of application and assessment” for residents wanting 20mph zones introduced.

After suggestions that numerous groups had been overlooked by the council’s review, officers said North Yorkshire’s policy was consistent with national guidelines and that the review had been thorough.

The authority’s opposition leader, Cllr Stuart Parsons, said police carried out no speed enforcement in the large area in Richmond that was covered by a 20mph zone.

He said: 

“On many an evening we have what seems like trial runs of the Monaco Grand Prix on the streets of Richmond.”

Cllr Parsons called on the county council to exert pressure on the police to enforce speed limits so 20mph in built-up areas could be introduced as a default.

However, the council’s executive member for access, Cllr Don Mackenzie, said the county’s roads were becoming safer and safer, and 20mph zones should only be created on a case-by-case basis.

He said the available money for road safety should be focused on exceptions, such as young and older drivers, motorcyclists, cyclists and drink and drug drivers.

He said: 

“One area where we see very few casualties and where we are very safe indeed, without being complacent, is in built-up areas and accidents caused by speed. This is an area of very, very small amounts of incidents on our roads.”

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